Public Health Announcement

Ebola

The CDC has recently issued a travel warning for persons traveling to and from Sierra Leone and Guinea. Additionally, the CDC has posted guidance on their website, and pages are being updated daily.  For persons who have recently traveled to or from these areas, or the region of West Africa, I would recommend reviewing material there, starting at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html 

Other pages of interest are
Outbreak update: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html

Zika Virus

On January 15, 2016, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert to highlight countries where Zika virus is prevalent. The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos and is therefore most prevalent in tropical environments. Generally, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), lasting several days to a week. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika, but severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Travelers can limit their exposure to Zika (and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya) by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Unfortunately, Zika is linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly. This link is so strong that the CDC issued travel guidance for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating. Such travelers should regularly review the travel alert for updates as more countries are likely to be added to the list.

On February 5, 2016, the CDC issued guidance for male travelers who are concerned about potential exposure of Zika to female partners, particularly those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. They should review the CDC's Interim Guidelines for the Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika.

If you are concerned about a risk of exposure to Zika related to upcoming travel. Follow the CDC's recommendations regarding mosquito precautions. Pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant, should consult with their OB/GYN.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome “MERS”

Persons who may be at risk for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome or MERS include:  recent travelers with fever and symptoms of respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula; close contacts of an ill traveler to or from the Arabian Peninsula who has had fever and respiratory symptoms;  close contacts of a confirmed or probable case of MERS;  and, healthcare personnel not using recommended infection control precautions. 

 It is important to understand that as of this time, persons who do not meet one of the criteria above are not considered to be at risk for MERS.

More information about MERS can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/

Please do not hesitate to contact us at the Student Health Center at 460-7151 if you have further questions.

Thank you,
Beverly Kellen SignatureBeverly Kellen

Practice Director
Student Health, Internal Medicine, Stanton Road and Psychiatry 
University of South Alabama