Infectious and Communicable Disease Prevention
Keeping You and Our Campus Safe from Infectious Diseases
Communicable diseases spread from one person to another. Some of the common ways they are transmitted are through:
- Breathing in an airborne virus
- Contact with blood or other bodily fluids
- Being bitten by an insect
See below for information on common communicable or infectious diseases found on university campuses. You’ll find an overview of each and its prevention, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Coronavirus disease (COVID -19) SARS-CoV-2 virus
People infected with COVID-19 may experience symptoms like the flu or pneumonia. Your primary healthcare provider is your best resource if you become ill. Visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 website for the latest on vaccines, testing, quarantine, and travel.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer frequently
- Protect yourself by staying six feet or more away from others
- Wear a well-fitting mask
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Eat a varied diet
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Symptoms requiring immediate care
- Bluish lips or face
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Difficulty waking up
- See a doctor
- Follow your doctor’s recommended treatment. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest:
- Plenty of water
- Liquids with electrolytes
- Vitamin D3
- Fever-reducing medication
- Anti-viral therapy for COVID (Paxlovid)
- Medication for your breathing
Influenza (flu) is an upper respiratory infection that affects the throat, nose, and sometimes the lungs. Cases can be mild to severe. Adults and children with chronic illnesses and adults 65 years and older are at higher risk for developing flu. The four types of flu are A, B, C, and D. Flu A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease. Flu C generally causes mild illness and is not thought to cause human outbreaks. Flu D primarily affects cattle and is not known to infect or cause disease in people. People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
- Yearly flu vaccine
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Frequent hand washing
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
- Fever or feeling feverish with chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (this is more common in children than adults)
Doctors test for flu primarily through Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests (RIDTs), and the doctor obtains the results in 10-15 minutes. A Rapid Molecular Assay is another test doctors can perform. These results take 15-20 minutes and are more accurate. Both of these tests are done with a nose or throat swab.
- Zanamivir (Relenza)
- Peramivir (Rapivab)
- Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza)
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease. The virus is part of the same family that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox symptoms, however they present to be much milder. The disease is rarely fatal and is not related to chickenpox. The source of the disease is unknown however, rodents and primates are known to harbor the virus and infect people.
- Wash hands
- Use hand sanitizer
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact or contact with body fluids
- Do not share personal items such as towels, clothing, hairbrush, pillows, or bedding
- If traveling to Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread the monkeypox virus. Also, avoid sick or dead animals and animal bedding
- Muscle pain
- Blistering rash that will crust
- Swollen lymph node
Healthcare providers typically diagnose Monkeypox based on symptoms. See a healthcare provider for diagnosis.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations:
- They may recommend vaccination.
- There is no cure for Monkeypox, but your healthcare provider may recommend antiviral therapy.
According to the Center for Disease Control, mononucleosis, also known as mono, is a contagious disease. Epstein-Bar virus (EBV) is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis, but other viruses can also cause this disease. Mono is common among teenagers and young adults—especially college students. According to the CDC, at least one out of four teenagers and young adults who get infected with EBV will develop infectious mononucleosis.
There is no vaccine to protect against mononucleosis. However, you can protect yourself by not:
- Sharing drinks
- Sharing food with people who have infectious mononucleosis or have not been infectious
- Sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes, with people who have infectious mononucleosis or have not been infectious
Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually appear four to six weeks after you have been infected with EBV. Symptoms may develop gradually and may not all appear simultaneously. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Extreme fatigue
- Sore throat
- Head and body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
- Swollen liver or spleen or both
Healthcare providers typically diagnose infectious mononucleosis based on symptoms. See your healthcare provider for diagnosis.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, a healthcare provider may recommend treatment of a specific organ system affected by infectious mononucleosis. See a physician or the student health center for treatment.
While there is not a vaccine for mononucleosis, you can help relieve symptoms by:
- Drinking fluids to stay hydrated
- Getting plenty of rest
- Taking over-the-counter medications for pain and fever
Streptococcal pharyngitis (Strep)
Streptococcus pyogenes, which are also called group A streptococcus (group A strep), cause acute pharyngitis known as strep throat. Strep pharyngitis is an infection of the oropharynx caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. Streptococcus pyogenes are gram-positive cocci that grow in chains. They exhibit B-hemolysis when grown on blood agar plates. They belong to group A in the Lancefield classification system for B-hemolytic streptococcus and thus are called group A streptococci.
You can protect yourself by following:
- Good hand hygiene etiquette, especially after coughing and sneezing and before preparing foods or eating
- Good respiratory etiquette by covering your cough or sneeze.
Group A strep pharyngitis is a pharyngitis that commonly presents with
- Sudden onset of sore throat
- Pain with swallowing
- Abdominal pain
History and clinical examination can be used to diagnose viral pharyngitis when clear viral symptoms are present. Viral symptoms include
- Oral ulcers
The differential diagnosis of acute pharyngitis includes multiple viral and bacterial pathogens. Viruses are the most common cause of pharyngitis in all age groups. Experts estimate that group A strep, the most common bacterial type, causes 20% to 30% of pharyngitis episodes in children. In comparison, experts estimate it causes approximately 5% to 15% of pharyngitis infections in adults.
Based on the severity of symptoms, a healthcare provider may recommend treatment of specific medication affected by group A strep pharyngitis. See a physician or student health center for treatment.
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