Category Archives: Health Conditions

Student Health never gives antibiotics!

chart from CDC showing bacterial infections and viral infections

Huh?

We hear it often, especially during cold and flu season. It is the most common reason parents call to talk to our Director. It leads to negative reviews on social media sometimes. It sounds something like this……

Students come in asking for a zpack by name because “that’s the only thing that works”

Parents call and are upset we didn’t “do anything” for their student

“My doctor at home just calls me in an antibiotic”

“Student Health told me I have a cold but I really have an upper respiratory infection!”

“My snot is green so I know it is bacterial”

“You told me I have a virus, but I went to another facility and got an antibiotic”

And finally………………………”Student Health never gives antibiotics!”

 

SO WHAT’S THE DEAL, STUDENT HEALTH?

Sore throat, cough, nasal congestion/drainage, fever, aches, ear pain, sinus pressure, and headache are some of the most common reasons for visits to Student Health. As you see from the chart, VERY few need antibiotics.

Some important facts to know:

  • 90-98% of sinus infections are viral (and even in bacterial cases, antibiotics do not necessarily help)
  • 90-95% of sore throats in adults are NOT strep
  • over 200 strains of the common cold exist
  • bronchitis should not be treated with antibiotics
  • most adults experience 2-4 colds annually, each lasting 7-10 days
  • colored snot means NOTHING in regards to whether the cause is bacterial or viral
  • high fever can be present in either bacterial or viral infections

chart from CDC showing bacterial infections and viral infections

 

So how do Providers know whether a patient needs an antibiotic or not?

Providers at Student Health follow national treatment guidelines, which aid diagnosis and treatment planning. The Centers for Disease Control has an excellent chart that you can check out here to see why we make the decisions we do. Part of the diagnosis is on patient reporting of symptoms, duration of illness, etc and the other is based on physical assessment, such as vital sign readings, visual inspection of eyes/throat/nose/ears, and listening to lungs (among other things depending on symptoms).

Do we give antibiotics? Of course we do–when it is the medically appropriate treatment.


Yeah, but wouldn’t an antibiotic help anyway????

NO. Incorrect antibiotic use causes a whole host of problems. People tend to forget that antibiotics can have side effects, some which may even make a patient feel worse than their original illness! Allergic reactions, stomach upset, diarrhea, yeast infections, and rashes are just some of the common side effects people can experience with antibiotics. Another issue is drug resistance–every time you take an antibiotic that you do not need, you are contributing to the fact that the antibiotic is less effective over time to bacteria. Did you know that by taking an antibiotic, you can actually help unleash a dangerous different bacteria into your gut, one that can lead to hospitalization and even death? (Don’t believe me? Check out  info on C.Difficile)

Superbugs like MRSA exist now because of incorrect use of antibiotics, and the scary thing is, our ability to fight these super infections is limited or in some cases, there is no way at all to treat them! And what about cost? Prescriptions are not always cheap. Why take a medication that won’t help, may hurt, leads to drug resistance, and costs money?

Health care providers have a duty to prescribe responsibly and to only use antibiotics in acute illness when a patient shows signs that a bacterial infection is present.


So you aren’t going to help.

Here is the part that comes into conversation with a lot of our patient/parent feedback about viral infections: if you are not giving an antibiotic, you are not doing anything to help. The hard truth is this: with most illnesses, including flu, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, colds, sinus infections and most sore throats, THERE IS NO MAGIC FIX. We always advise patients on the best way to treat their symptoms to hopefully get some relief, but the only thing that cures is TIME. Illnesses can take days or WEEKS to resolve (yes, weeks.) Rest, good nutrition, light exercise, and increasing fluid intake help. We recommend which over the counter medications to take, and provide prescriptions for cough medications or inhalers if warranted; our on site pharmacists are also happy to help patients decide what may help their symptoms. Having a pharmacy right inside Main Campus SHS makes it easy for patients to pick up what they need to start feeling better.

 

“You told me I have a virus, but I went to another facility and got an antibiotic.”

Ah.

Our advice to patients would be to always ask why you are, or are not, receiving an antibiotic. Ask what guidelines are being used. Ask why a provider thinks an illness is viral or bacterial. Any high quality provider will be happy to share information and education about their clinical decision.

We hear stories of “urgent care gave me an antibiotic for my bronchitis” (cringe) or “the ED diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and wrote me a zpack” (AKA, you have a COLD. Double cringe) or, possibly the most irresponsible, “I called my doctor at home and he called me in an antibiotic since that always helps” (ugh….)

Some outside facilities may not be willing to practice evidenced based medicine when it comes to antibiotic prescribing because that may mean a patient will be unhappy (and therefore will not pay to come back). We cannot control what other offices do, but we can insist that our facility follows recommendations and best practices. Just because you can walk out of another office with one or more prescriptions does not mean it was the medically sound thing to do.

 

Possibly the most important part…..that many patients miss…..

While most illnesses are viral in nature, we ALWAYS tell patients that if they are not getting better, something suddenly worsens, or if they have any emergency symptoms such as difficulty breathing, inability to put their chin to their chest, severe headache, chest pain, high fever that does not respond to medication, or prolonged vomiting, THEY NEED TO BE RE-EVALUATED. Infections that start out as viral, or appear early on as viral, can lead to bacterial infections that do need antibiotics or other treatments. Most patients will recover from viral illnesses on their own, but if that is not the case, we will always be glad to see patients for follow up appointments. The great thing about Student Health is that if you pay fees with your tuition, you do not have to pay to be seen and evaluated….so never hesitate to come back with any new concerns, symptoms that are not improving, or other questions about your care.

 

Our goal is help the ECU campus community be as healthy as possible. By communicating how we form diagnoses and treatment plans, we hope patients and others will feel more educated and confident that safe and appropriate antibiotic prescribing is a important part of the care we provide at Student Health Services. As always, feel free to drop us a line at gotquestions@ecu.edu with your health or service related questions.

Stay well, ECU!

 

Sources:

Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer https://www.cdc.gov/features/antibioticuse/infographic2.html

Appropriate Antibiotic Use https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/

CDC Treatment Guidelines https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-hcp/outpatient-hcp/adult-treatment-rec.html

Happy New Year! and unfortunately, welcome to flu season…………

fluview graphic of US states showing every state is having widespread flu activity

fluview graphic of US states showing every state is having widespread flu activity

 

We are seeing an increase of flu cases here at Student Health, which mirrors the activity across the United States. Here is some important information about flu and what to do if you (or someone close to you) gets sick.

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.

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 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 Pirate Port and use the “Flu Self Reporting Form”. Be advised: this is NOT an excuse. It does let 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. Student Health has some vaccine available or visit one of your local retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, or your primary medical provider’s office.
  • 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 way more than you think is necessary. Also, alcohol based sanitizers do work against flu, so get you 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?
    Sometimes. In many cases though, testing is not helpful since the treatment for flu is based on symptoms, not test results, so your treatment is the same regardless of whether or not you have a test. Right now there is a national shortage of flu tests, but as flu becomes widespread in communities there is less need to test since we know the virus is circulating.
  • 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.
  • Can SHS give me a note to miss class?
    No. SHS can not give class excuses. While we do not want students going to class ill, decisions about class attendance policies rest solely with instructors. Students should notify their instructor when they have the flu.
  • If I have flu, do I need Tamiflu (antiviral medication)?
    Again, probably not. 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; however, low risk otherwise healthy people do not need prescription medication for flu. Tamiflu has side effects of its own and while it *may* shorten duration of illness by 24 hours or so, it will not take symptoms away. It is indicated for helping prevent serious complications in high risk patients, but it is not a magic bullet for making the flu go away in otherwise healthy individuals.

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 nurse line 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) and Facebook (ECU Student Health Services) for the most up to date information for campus.

Source:

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

Still on the fence about the flu shot?????

image states "keep health and get your flu shot"

image states "keep health and get your flu shot"

 

If you are opting out of a flu shot because of some rumors you have heard, let us help fact check the claims.

If you decide to change your mind and get vaccinated, call us at (252) 328-6841. We have a small supply of flu vaccine left….get it while you can! Our cases of people being sick with the flu are increasing, so don’t wait much longer to get your flu shot.

Is it too late to get my flu shot? No. We are starting to see an increase in influenza cases at SHS. This is likely to persist for the next 6 weeks or possibly longer. The flu shot offers full protection about a month after receiving it, so if you get it soon, you may still benefit from it.

I heard the flu shot wasn’t very good this year. Why should I get it? We don’t know how well the flu shot will work this year. The flu virus mutates quickly and that can make the vaccine less effective. Last year’s flu vaccine (2016-2017) was about 39% effective against all circulating types of influenza. The CDC is predicting that this year is likely to be similar. However, the flu virus mutates quickly and that means sometimes the vaccine is just not a good match for the types of virus that are floating around. That being said, the flu vaccine has been shown again and again to reduce complications of the flu such as pneumonia and to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. This suggests that those who get the vaccine are getting some protection from it, even if they do happen to catch the flu.

I got the flu shot one time and it made me sick. The flu shot cannot give you the flu. There is no live virus in the shot. It is not uncommon, though, for people to feel a bit achy after the shot. Sometimes they will develop some sinus drainage or headaches or mild elevations in body temperature. This is not the flu. The purpose of the flu shot is to put your immune system on guard against the flu. This mild ill feeling is likely an indicator that the shot is doing its job—your body is reacting to it. If you get the shot and then have fever (temp greater than 100.4), that would be an uncommon reaction and is more likely to be a different viral illness—not related to the flu shot.

There is excellent information (and much more detail) about the flu shot on the CDC website. The address is www.cdc.gov. Search:flu shot.

~Dr. Ashton Johnson, SHS Physician

STI/STD Awareness Month!

STI/STD Awareness Month

Know your status, Pirates!

April is STI/STD Awareness Month! This is a time to increase awareness and encourage testing for sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs) including HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that of sexually active people in the US, 1 in 2 will get an STI by the time they’re 25. That could be you or the person sitting next to you in class. There are about 20 million new STIs diagnosed each year, half are among young people ages 15-24. While getting an STI is more common than you probably thought, people are still incredibly uncomfortable talking about it. Let’s change that now!

This STI Awareness Month (and all year long), take control of your sexual health. Start having open and honest conversations with your partner(s) and healthcare provider about sexual health and STIs. Here are some conversation starters that might help you when talking to your partner(s):

Talk before you have sex.

  • “Getting tested before we have sex will help protect both of us.”
  • “Many people who have an STI don’t know it. Why take a chance when we can know for sure?”

There are other things you may want to talk to your partner about, such as:

  • Sexual history – the number of partners you’ve had and what kind of protection you used
  • Risk factors – like whether you’ve had sex without a condom or used drugs with needles

Share the facts.

  • “STIs that are found and treated early are less likely to cause long-term problems.”
  • “Getting tested is easy. Doctors can test urine (pee) for chlamydia and gonorrhea, some of the most common STIs. And some HIV tests can give results in 20 minutes. You may not even have to give blood.”
  • “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about STIs with your regular doctor, you can get tested at a clinic instead.”

Show that you care.

  • “I really care about you. I want to make sure we are both healthy.”
  • “I’ve been tested for STIs, including HIV. Are you willing to do the same?”
  • “Let’s get tested together.”

Agree to stay safe.

  • “If we’re going to have sex, using condoms is the best way to protect us from STIs. Let’s use condoms every time we have sex.”
  • “We can enjoy sex more if we know it’s safe.”

Being a student is challenging on its own, we understand you are in the process of carving your own path in life. STIs don’t define you or what you can do in life. Sometimes you can feel alone with an STI diagnosis. You don’t have to be alone – speak to someone you trust, a friend, parent or healthcare provider and talk about it.

The only way to know your status is to get tested. At Student Health, you have two options for getting tested:

  • If you are symptom-free, you can schedule a visit with the Fast Track nurse to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and/or syphilis. Make sure not to urinate within 1 hour of your appointment time (if you want oral screening for chlamydia/gonorrhea, do not eat/drink/chew for 1 hour prior to your appointment).
  • If you have symptoms and need testing for possible warts or herpes, make a clinic appointment with one of our providers. They can also treat any other symptoms you may have like penile drip or discharge; sores, bumps or blisters around your genital or anal area; burning with urination; swollen or tender testicles; throat pain; rectal bleeding, discharge, itching, or bumps.

Remember, STIs are very common but most young people don’t know they are infected. If you do have an STI, work with your healthcare provider to get the proper treatment. It’s important to always wear a condom or use a dental dam to avoid getting an STI or infecting your partner(s).

Have a general question about STIs? E-mail us at gotquestions@ecu.edu.

Sources:

American Sexual Health Association (ASHA): Yes Means Test. www.yesmeanstest.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): STD Awareness Month – Archive

https://www.cdc.gov/std/sam/archive.htm

Image source: https://www.healthypeople.gov/

Lots of people saying the “F” word around here lately…….FLU :(

woman holding tissue up to her nose

Flu is here!

We are seeing an increase of flu cases here at Student Health. Here is some important information about flu and what to do if you (or someone close to you) gets sick.

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.

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 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 Pirate Port 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. Student Health has plenty of vaccine available or visit one of your local retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, or your primary medical provider’s office.
  • 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 way more than you think is necessary. Also, alcohol based sanitizers do work against flu, so get you 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. 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 performed or not if the provider suspects flu.
  • 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.
  • Can SHS give me a note to miss class?
    No. SHS can not give class excuses.
  • If I have flu, do I need Tamiflu (antiviral medication)?
    Again, probably not.  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; however, low risk otherwise healthy people do not need prescription medication for flu.

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) and Facebook (ECU Student Health Services) for the most up to date information for campus.

Source:

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

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

 

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/

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/

 

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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