by Leah Jackson
Northwestern State University is partnering with local, state and federal public health departments to keep the campus community informed about the coronavirus and the measures individuals should take to stay healthy.
What is the coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
2019-nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:
• It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
• Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.
Status of Disease Locally: There are currently no reported cases in Louisiana. Fifty-three cases have been identified within the United States.
What is the risk?
The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.
Symptoms and transmission:
Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:
- Difficulty breathing
Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.
If you travel to/through Wuhan or other parts of China:
The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel:
Avoid contact with sick people.
Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.
Currently there are no restrictions in place for those students that plan to travel or study abroad with university-sponsored programs. Please contact your program coordinator for updates and guidance.
People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. (source: CDC)
There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Currently, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take.
Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:
If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:
• Traveled to Wuhan, or
• Visited an affected region in China, or
• Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms.
• Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
• Students should call Health Services at (318) 357-5351 if on campus or contact your primary care provider. Please call before arrival to Health Services or primary care provider. NSU Health Services will provide advice by phone during the hours of 7:30-4:30 Monday – Thursday and 7:30-12:00 on Friday.
• Avoid contact with others.
• Do not travel while sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
What is the campus health service doing about 2019-nCoV?
NSU Administration, Student Affairs and Student Health Services continue to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the American College Health Association. Officials will continue to keep the university community informed of campus decisions as more is learned about this virus and the outbreak. Contact Carla Walker, RN at NSU Health Services with questions and concerns.
Updates will be posted here and in Messenger as they become available.
About the Author: Leah Jackson