Stomach bug/stomach flu (Norovirus)

norovirus-symptoms-259x300Ever had nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that came on you quick and ran through you like a mack truck?  Ever feel like throwing up and at the very same time having to sit on the toilet? (gross, but true…)  Then you have probably experienced a “stomach bug” or “stomach flu” or maybe even thought you had “food poisoning”–all these phrases usually point to a the true culprit, Norovirus.

Norovirus is a nasty virus that is responsible for wreaking havoc on day care kids, college students, and even cruise line passengers around the world.  It causes rapid illness with severe nausea, what seems like never ending vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes explosive….ugh), headache, fever/chills, and abdominal pain/cramping.  Although sometimes called a “stomach flu”, it has no relation to influenza or the seasonal flu.  It is spread easily, with the virus particles living on contaminated surfaces for days and maybe even weeks (eww…) So…..bad news first.

Bad news:  We are seeing an increase in cases right now at SHS.  Norovirus spreads easily, especially in close quarters (i.e. pretty much every college environment).  It hits incredibly hard, and while it does not last long, it can take you a while to get your strength and food tolerance back.  Evidence shows alcohol based hand sanitizers are not effective against norovirus–but soap and water hand washing is.  Also bleach based solutions help disinfect, but those are not as easy to use on all types of surfaces.

Good news: While you may feel like it is never going to end when you are the one going through it, it actually usually moves out quick: most people recover in 1-3 days.  It is a virus, so there is no magic cure.  Most cases can be managed at home, with the right tools (see below), but if you are not improving or you cannot stay properly hydrated, we may need to intervene with IV fluids.

HOW TO TREAT IF YOU ARE SICK: The most important issue is hydration.  You lose a lot of fluids through vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.  While you may be scared to drink when you are vomiting or running to the bathroom so often, it is important to incorporate small amounts frequently to stay on top of your fluid balance.  You do absorb some fluids even if you are continuing to visit the bathroom often.  Use sports drinks, clear sodas (think Sprite, Ginger Ale, 7 Up), water, ice chips, clear broth soups–avoid dairy, alcohol or caffeine.  You can take over the counter medications for fever/aches (Tylenol or ibuprofen/Motrin) and nausea (sometimes they are boxed as motion sickness tablets)–if you need to stock up, come see our pharmacy.  Rest.  Clean contaminated surfaces with a diluted bleach solution (5 to 25 tbsp bleach per gallon of water).  WASH YOUR HANDS–you shed the virus in vomit and diarrhea.  Once you feel human again, start your stomach back on a bland diet–nothing spicy, greasy, or dairy–good starter items are crackers, clear soups, toast, applesauce, bananas, plain baked potatoes.  Take it slow until you can tolerate more foods.

Prevention:  WASH YOUR HANDS.  We can not say it enough.  Wash your produce well too when preparing food and cook items properly (norovirus can be spread through a sick person handling food).  Try to avoid sick persons if you can and wipe down used surfaces with the bleach solution mentioned above.  And again, WASH YOUR HANDS.

If you are sick and need advice, or if you have questions, call us at 252-328-6841 or email us at gotquestions@ecu.edu.  If you have been treating yourself and you are not getting any better, not able to hold down fluids, are not peeing regularly (a sign of hydration) or are having severe abdominal pain, you may need care by a health care provider.  Call us.  Sometimes IV fluids are necessary to help you.

oh, and WASH YOUR HANDS.

Source and more information:  CDC Norovirus Overview

 

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Has the flu gotten you?

Flu activity is high in North Carolina and we are seeing an increase of cases here at Student Health.  Patients with routine appointments (Pap smears, annual women’s health exams, physicals, etc) should consider rescheduling their appointments to avoid contacting sick persons in the Health Center.

Signs of the flu:  sudden onset of fever, body aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache.  Rarely it can cause diarrhea or vomiting, but influenza and the “stomach flu” are NOT the same thing.  Flu makes you feel horrible, fast. Like hit by a truck horrible.

***If you think you have the flu, call us at 252-328-6841 before coming to SHS or making an appointment.  Often an appointment is not necessary as the nurses can give you advice on treating your symptoms at home.  This helps keep other students healthy as well by limiting sick patient in our lobby.***

What to do if you are sick:  stay away from others until you have been fever-free for 24 hrs without having to take fever reducing medication.  Take ibuprofen/tylenol for aches and fever, drink a lot of fluids, rest, and cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue that you throw away. WASH YOUR HANDS.  Are you high risk for flu complications?  Read this and if it applies, call us at 252-328-6841.

  • Do you need a friend to pick up food for you at the dining hall?  You can fill out this form and let your buddy grab you something to eat.
  • Do you need to let your professors know you are sick?  Log onto Onestop and use the “Flu Self Reporting Form”.  Be advised:  this is NOT an excuse.  But, it lets your professors know you are ill and they may work with you on missed work.

What to do if your roommate or someone you love is sickhttp://www.flu.gov/symptoms-treatment/caring-for-someone/index.html

If you aren’t sick, here are a few things to do to try to avoid the flu:

  • get a flu shot–although the best time to get vaccinated is early fall, it is not too late.  We still have shots available here at Student Health–come get one today.  Call us at 252-328-6841 to schedule a time.
  • Avoid sick people–if your friend says they don’t feel well, maybe you should cancel that study session or lunch date.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or smoke after others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth–we don’t realize how much we introduce germs into our system just by our habits.
  • Wash your hands more than you think is necessary.  Also, alcohol based sanitizers do work against flu, so get a bottle to keep in your bag.
  • Surfaces are gross!  Doorknobs, chair rails, keyboards, money, pens, phones, etc all can harbor flu virus particles.  Remember to clean your hands often especially after touching items others have used.

A few FAQ:

  • Does SHS test for flu?
    Yes, we can.  It is done by swabbing nasal secretions and costs $32.  But, in many cases, it is not helpful since the treatment for flu is based on symptoms, not test results, so your treatment is the same whether the test is negative or positive.  The test is not perfect either, so it may not be entirely accurate.
  • Should I see a doctor?
    In most cases, if you are healthy and have no underlying major medical issues like asthma, pregnancy, diabetes, HIV, heart conditions, cancer, etc, you do not need to see a health care provider since flu typically resolves on its own.  However, if you have severe symptoms or feel that you are not improving, you need to call your doctor or if you have an emergency, call 911.
  • If I have flu, do I need Tamiflu (antiviral medication)?
    Maybe.  Learn more here.  If you have a severe case, or are at high risk for complications, then your doctor will probably prescribe an anti-viral if you are early in the course of illness.  Antiviral medication does not cure the flu but may shorten the duration of symptoms or help prevent complications.  Talk with your health care provider about antiviral options.
  • If someone close to me has the flu but I do not have any symptoms, can I get Tamiflu as a precaution?
    SHS, in accordance with CDC guidelines, does not recommend Tamiflu in healthy persons with no flu symptoms.

Still have more flu related questions?  Email us at fluquestions@ecu.edu

Also, don’t forget: anytime we are not open, you always have the 24hr nurseline available to you for medical advice.  Call our main number, 252-328-6841, and listen to the instructions for speaking with a nurse.

Student Health continually monitors the flu situation.  Look to www.ecu.edu/studenthealth for updates and please follow us on Twitter (@ECU_SHS) for the most up to date information for campus!

Sources & web links for even more flu information:

Flu.Gov                 http://www.flu.gov/
CDC                       http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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Student Blue waiver/enrollment period NOW OPEN

The waiver/enrollment system for Spring/Summer 2015 is now open through January 30, 2015.

To find out information about the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), including benefits, cost, eligibility, and how SHIP works with the student health fee, visit our Student Health Insurance page.

Need help deciding if SHIP is right for you/your student?  This short video may help you decide.

Brand new students will first need to create an account on Student Blue, using their Banner ID and date of birth, then proceed with the waiver or enrollment process.  Returning students should log in to their existing Student Blue account, using their e-mail address and the password they created for the account last semester.

Ready to waive out or enroll?  Click on the Student Blue logo below.

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Winter Break/Intersession Hours and Fees

Doctor showing clockStudent Health’s hours of operation will vary around the upcoming winter holiday break.

**Please note:  student fees do not cover services during University intersession breaks. Each SHS clinic visit is subject to a $30.00 fee from December 22-January 9.**

Wednesday, December 17
CLOSED 12:00-2:00pm for a staff meeting

Saturday, December 20-Sunday, December 21
CLOSED

Monday, December 22-Tuesday, December 23

Medical care and pharmacy open 1:30pm-4:00pm only.  Office is open for general business (dropping off records, medical releases, etc) from 8:00am-12noon and 1:00pm-5:00pm.  CLOSED 12:00-1:00pm.  ***All students must pay a $30.00 visit charge for medical care during this time since there are no classes or student fees paid during this period***

Wednesday, December 24-Sunday, January 4, 2015

CLOSED

Monday, January 5
Medical care and pharmacy open 1:30pm-4:00pm only.  Office is open for general business (dropping off records, medical releases, etc) from 8:00am-12noon and 1:00pm-5:00pm.  CLOSED 12:00-1:00pm.  ***All students must pay a $30.00 visit charge for medical care during this time since there are no classes or student fees paid during this period***

Tuesday, January 6
CLOSED for a division event

Wednesday, January 7 -Friday, January 9
Medical care and pharmacy open 1:30pm-4:00pm only.  Office is open for general business (dropping off records, medical releases, etc) from 8:00am-12noon and 1:00pm-5:00pm.  CLOSED 12:00-1:00pm.  ***All students must pay a $30.00 visit charge for medical care during this time since there are no classes or student fees paid during this period***

Don’t forget:  anytime SHS is closed, you still have access to medical advice.  Call 911 for emergencies, but if you just want to talk to a nurse about an issue, call 328-6841 and stay on the line to be transferred to our free, 24 hr nurse line. You can also find self care information for treating your problem on our webpage, or you can submit a question to gotquestions@ecu.edu

Have a wonderful holiday break, Pirates!!!

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World AIDS Day, 2014

aids_ribbon1Today SHS is observing World AIDS Day.  Do you know your status?  Interested in HIV testing?

SHS has HIV testing available every day, Monday-Friday, for FREE.  Testing is quick, easy, and private.  We utilize blood testing and results are usually available within 1 week.  There are 3 ways to make an appointment:

  • in person, by visiting the “Appointments” office inside of SHS, 8am-5pm Monday-Friday
  • by phone, by calling (252) 328-6841 option 1, from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday
    or
  • online, by visiting our online SHS portal starting at 5am each day Monday-Friday (https://shs.ecu.edu/)

HIV can take up to 3-4 months to be detected after exposure, so test often.

Want to learn more about HIV/AIDS?  Visit the CDC HIV info page.

Stay healthy Pirates, and know your status!

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Flu is here. Ugh…..

H1N1logo_PeeDee copyPositive flu cases are starting to pop up now in our area, including on campus.  Help keep yourself healthy by getting vaccinated, washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer, and staying away from sick persons if possible.

Need a flu shot?  We are giving them every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on a walk in basis from 8am-10am at the Student Health Center.  If that doesn’t work for your schedule, call us at 328-6841 to set up an appointment.  We will also be out on campus doing flu shots–check out our dates and times: fluclinicposter2014.  More dates may be added in the future so check our website at www.ecu.edu/studenthealth or follow us on Twitter (@ECU_SHS) for the latest info.

Feeling sick?  Symptoms occur suddenly with flu and can include fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and possibly nausea or vomiting.  Flu hits fast, and usually feels much much worse than a regular cold.  Most people do not need medical attention, as flu is viral and will run its course within a few days to a week. Over the counter medications (tylenol, ibuprofen, etc) and home remedies like warm soup, rest, and salt water gargles may help your symptoms.  However, if you have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart problems, pregnancy, or immune compromising issues such as cancer or HIV, you should contact your health care provider for further advice.  Symptoms such as shortness of breath, inability to hold down fluids, and chest pain should be evaluated urgently by calling 911 or visiting the ER or local urgent care center.

If you are sick, stay away from others until you are fever free for 24 hours without taking fever reducing medicine.  Communicate early on with your professors about your illness–SHS cannot give you a class excuse for missed days or assignments.  Flu germs can travel 3-6 feet away, so cough or sneeze into your sleeve if possible.

Need help or have flu related questions?  Call us at 328-6841, or email us at GotQuestions@ecu.edu.  If our office is closed, you always have access to our 24hr nurseline for medical advice.

Stay healthy, Pirates!!!!

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Chikungunya…..funny name, not so funny virus….

keepcalminsectrepellentHearing about chikungunya virus yet?  Well, you probably will soon–a case has been confirmed in Pitt County.  The virus is mosquito borne, and causes aches, joint pain, fever and rash.  There is no treatment but you can take over the counter pain medications to help symptoms.  Most people feel better in a few days, but for some, the joint pain persists longer.  Want more information?  Visit http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/

 

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EBOLA! (The facts, not the hype)

ebola_suitEbolaebola1

Everywhere you look, Ebola is on the news. Scary images of dying, bleeding West Africans are overplayed alongside scenes of medical personnel in space suit-looking isolation gear.  Movies like “Outbreak”, “28 Days Later”, and “Contagion” heighten our fears of a rapid, global hemorrhagic disease. We have brought back several Americans who are infected to be treated in Atlanta and Nebraska hospitals and we have had several health care workers  infected.  Does that mean we should all be worried? Is this something that will spread across the U.S.?

First of all, don’t panic. The media has helped increase fear by making Ebola the lead story every night.  Yes, it is a serious disease that causes vomiting, fever, bleeding, and often, death. However, there is a lot about Ebola though that is left out of the sensational news stories. As a public consumer of information, knowing the facts often makes a frightening issue a lot less terrifying.

Here is what you need to know….

Ebola IS:

  • a virus
  • spread through contact with the body fluids (blood, secretions, semen) of someone that is ill with or has died from Ebola,  or from an animal infected with Ebola (chimps, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes, porcupines)
  • almost exclusively limited to West Africa at this time, primarily Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.  Nigeria was recently declared “Ebola free”.   Several cases have occurred in US health care workers but there is no widespread risk or outbreak outside of West Africa.
  • very serious, particularly to people with severe nutritional deficits, lack of access to clean water, and those without medical care
  • able to be spread after death, so often the virus is transmitted during burial rituals in local African tribal communities

Ebola IS NOT:

  • a new disease (it was first identified in 1976); multiple outbreaks have occurred in Africa over the years
  • spread through air, water, or contaminated food
  • able to be prevented by vaccination nor is there a cure; infected persons are given supportive treatment with IV fluids, oxygen therapy, and other interventions
  • being readily transmitted in the U.S.. Several health care workers have been diagnosed, but we have also successfully cared for other Ebola patients in this country without incident.  So far, the US health care workers have all responded well to treatment.
  • a risk to the general American public
  • something you can catch from being in an airplane, attending class, or living in a residence hall with someone who may have traveled to an affected area

Infectious disease experts are continually monitoring the latest information and feel very confident that a large scale outbreak that affects the United States is highly unlikely.  Ebola is not easy to get, and with our sophisticated medical care and ability to identify and isolate cases, our public health system is prepping to respond and contain to prevent any further spread.  We have already seen several hospitals receive patients successfully, and many others are performing drills, practicing policy and preparing general readiness plans.

The entire UNC campus system is in constant communication with infectious disease experts from NC Public Health and CDC.  All campuses are sharing information and are getting prepared should any further action be needed.  ECU is having regular meetings with a team of campus staff members that would be involved in any major health issue.  This team reviews the latest information and will keep the university community informed with any updates of interest or any news that impacts our campus.  Visit the special Ebola information page of ECU Alert:  http://www.ecu.edu/cs-ecu/alert/University-Response-to-Concerns-of-Ebola-Outbreak.cfm

Want to read more?  Use reputable health care sites and news agencies that report facts, not those that try to drum up viewers with scary sensational stories.  Here are a few articles and sites we like:
Ebola 101: The Facts Behind a Frightening Virus
CDC Ebola Info
WHO Ebola Virus Disease

Have you traveled to an affected area or know someone who has?  Read this: Information from the NC Department of Health and Human Services

Still have questions?  Concerns?  Students can contact us at ECU Student Health Services, (252) 328-6841 or by emailing us at gotquestions@ecu.edu.  Faculty/staff should contact the Office of Prospective Health, (252) 744-2070.

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Summer Intersession Hours and Fees

summer2

Now that summer classes are over for most students, Student Health Service has a change in operating hours from Monday, August 4-Friday, August 22.

During this period, Student Health is open for general business (dropping off forms, requesting medical records, general information) from 7:30am-12noon & 1pm-5pm, Monday-Friday.  Patient care hours (for appointments, dressing changes, pharmacy, etc) are 1:30pm-4pm Monday-Thursday and 7:30am-5:00pm Friday.  We are closed Saturday/Sunday.  Please also note:  SHS is CLOSED daily from 12pm-1pm.

A visit fee is required during this period to be seen as a patient at SHS (unless you are a dental or medical student who still has class during this time).  The fee is $30 per visit, in addition to any other charges you may incur during your appointment (lab, pharmacy, xray, etc).  The reason there is a visit fee is because during intersession, no student fees are supporting campus services.  We are open as a courtesy and convenience to students even when there are no classes, but your tuition and fees do not cover this period of service.

If you need care when SHS is not open, do not forget about our free 24 hour nurse line.  Just call our main number below and wait on the line.  This service is available to all ECU students.

For more information about our intersession hours or the visit fee for service, call us at (252) 328-6841.

Need Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) during this time?  Call their office for information on summer hours and eligibility: (252) 328-6661.

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Summer Session Fees

Now that summer has come, many students are not taking classes but they would still like to utilize Student Health Service (SHS) or the Counseling Center (CCSD).  Not in summer school?  You may be eligible to still receive care at SHS & CCSD.

Did you just graduate?  Congratulations!  Due to anti-trust laws, SHS cannot continue to provide your healthcare, but we can 1) help you transfer your records to the office of your choice, 2) provide you with a list of local offices if you need help establishing care outside, or 3) we do have a 2 week grace period following graduation if you need to come in for a follow up of an existing problem (i.e. to get a medication refilled, or to finish up treatment for a particular problem or concern).

If you did not graduate, but are just not taking classes in summer school, you may still be eligible for care at SHS and/or CCSD.  In order to qualify for services at SHS/CCSD in the summer when you are not taking classes,

          • you must have been enrolled this past spring AND
          • you must be registered for fall classes

If you meet those criteria, you can be seen at SHS/CCSD for a special summer fee.  The summer fee is necessary because you are not taking classes for the summer or paying any tuition, so you are not paying the usual health fee.  To pay the health fee for either SHS or CCSD service, stop by the Student Health Center.

There are 2 options for paying the summer fee for care at SHS:
Per visit fee $30.00
OR
Need multiple visits? Pay $60.00 for unlimited visits per summer session.

Need care at CCSD?  One option is available:
$60.00 per session (the per visit fee is not available for CCSD service)

First summer session fees are charged May 19-June 24.
Second summer session fees are charged June 25-Aug 1.

Once summer classes end, the only option for the fee is $30 per visit from August 4-August 22. (CCSD’s services may be limited during this period)

Questions?  Call SHS at (252) 328-6841 or CCSD at (252) 328-6661.

Have a healthy summer!

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