Health Advisories

 


Coronavirus Update

The Emergency Response Team continues to monitor Coronavirus closely.  For up to date COVID-19 information, visit Reopening Roger on the rwu.edu website. 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID:

What is the Coronavirus and how is it transmitted? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illnesses. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that had not been identified previously in humans. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person coughing and sneezing on somebody within 6 feet range (close contact), by touching an infected person's hands or face, or by touching an object or surface that an infected person has touched. Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.  

What are the signs that you are sick? Some symptoms of COVID-19 infection are similar to Influenza such as fever, cough and body aches. Additional specific symptoms often include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure, and death. However, it is important to note that healthy young people are significantly less likely to become seriously ill compared to older adults. 

How can I best protect myself and friends from infection? Standard measures to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus include: frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. In addition to hand washing, disinfecting hands using hand sanitizer gel containing at least 60% alcohol and using Clorox or equivalent bleach wipes to wipe down surfaces and seat handles is effective.  Protect your immune system with proper rest, exercise and nutrition habits.

Is there a vaccine available? There are three vaccines that have been approved by the FDA for the prevention of COVID-19 disease.  See Welcome | RI COVID-19 Information Portal for information regarding the vaccine and eligibility timeline.

What if a student becomes ill with COVID 19 and needs to be isolated.  The University will follow guidance from the RI DOH and the Center for Disease Control in determining whether a student should go home or remain on campus to isolate.  RIDOH strongly encourages students to remain on campus to isolate.  Home country or state as well as the condition of infected individuals and family health will be considered in decision-making. Students that have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID 19 will need to quarantine either at home or on campus and self-monitor their symptoms for up to 14 days.  

What will happen with my classes if I need to isolate or quarantine? As always, the health of our students and other community members is paramount.  Should a student need to be quarantined or isolated, they will be asked to contact the Center for Student Academic Success for assistance with determining an academic plan.  Allison Chase Padula, Associate Dean of Student Success, has been designated as the contact for students and their families for academic issues related to the virus.  Dean Chase Padula will work with the student and faculty to develop individual plans to facilitate completion of coursework or explore other options, including a medical leave of absence (working with Student Life).  This process does not differ significantly with how the University currently handles situations that require students to be out of class due to medical emergencies. 

Will I continue to get COVID tested if I had COVID illness  Per CDC guidance, if you test positive for COVID, you will not resume COVID testing for 90 days following the date of your positive test result.  You have natural immunity that will protect you against reinfection for at least 3 months.  

Will I continue to get COVID tested after receiving the COVID vaccine?  Yes, you will continue to get COVID tested after you have received the COVID vaccine because you can have COVID and transmit the virus to others despite having no symptoms.  

In closing, it is important for students to read and understand the above information, make informed decisions whether traveling or at home, and take measures to reduce their risk for infection.  


E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Illness (EVALI): 1/20/2020 update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to provide updates on the number of lung illness (EVALI) cases that are connected to vaping. In its latest advisory, the agency points to new evidence that devices containing THC are part of the problem. 

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical in marijuana that produces a psychological “high.” The agency says that e-cigarette devices that contain THC were linked to 82 percent of EVALI cases as of January 14,2020. Overall, 33 percent of people who developed EVALI reported that they only used a THC-containing device before becoming ill. 

With these numbers in mind, the CDC has adjusted its advisory to focus more on warning consumers to avoid THC-containing e-cigarettes.

“The EVALI outbreak primarily affects young adults, is driven by use of THC-containing products from informal sources and is strongly linked to vitamin E acetate,” the agency stated. “CDC and FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers.”

“THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged frequent use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

We urge all RWU community members to avoid the use of e-cigarette and other vaping products due to the harmful effects. 

The Dangers of Vaping

E-Cigarette Use/Vaping Is Not Safe

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other harmful chemicals.  They are sometimes called e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, and vape pens.  Using an e-cigarette is also called "vaping" or "juuling".  E-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.    

Users inhale the aerosol into their lungs.  Bystanders can also breath in the aerosol when the user exhales it into the air.  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive and can harm brain development in children and young adults.  All Juul e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine.  A single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

Do not assume that prior use of e-cigarettes without symptoms or illness indicates that it is safe to continue use.  Inform your health care provider if you have been using e-cigarette products so you can be thoroughly assessed. 

We urge any individual  having trouble discontinuing use of nicotine containing products to contact their health care provider for assistance.  Health Services offers smoking cessation services to students eligible to be seen.  Tobacco cessation resources are available at RI Department of Health.

 


Mosquito-borne Illnesses:  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus and West Nile Virus:

Both EEE and West Nile Virus have been identified in mosquitos in Rhode Island and surrounding states.  It is normal to identify these viruses in our region at this time of year.  We expect this cycle to occur every year in the late summer through the first hard frost.  These viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Human cases resulting in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) are extremely rare.  The chances of anyone individual contracting encephalitis is remote, but not impossible.

The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.  We recommend that all community members take steps to minimize their risk of exposure to mosquitos.  The personal prevention measures outlined below are from the CDC and RI Department of Health:

  • Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times (dusk to dawn) and avoid areas that have lots of mosquitos.
  • Use EPA approved insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Have intact screens on windows and doors or keep windows and doors closed to keep mosquitos out.
  • Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying any standing water in outdoor containers.

Contact Health Services at 401-254-3156 with any questions or concerns.


Influenza:  

Each year in the U.S., approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized from influenza complications, and over 36,000 people die.  Influenza is a respiratory illness with sudden onset of symptoms that include high fever, runny nose, body aches, headaches and cough.  

Flu season usually starts in October and lasts until March.  For most people, the illness is mild and resolves in 5-7 days.  Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic disease (asthma, diabetes, cancer) or weak immune systems are at high risk of developing complications from the flu.

On college campuses, the flu can be very serious.  Close living quarters, communal bathrooms, and high social activity make college campuses ideal settings for the spread of flu viruses.  Approximately 1 in 4 college students will get the flu.  So protect yourself and others by getting the flu vaccine. 

Infection control interventions aimed against COVID-19 transmission has substantially reduced the incidence of influenza in the 2020-2021 season. To date, we have only had one case of influenza on campus.  

 

Flu Shot

Infection Control Recommendations to protect you from getting sick:                      

  • Get a flu shot
  • Wash hands frequently and use the alcohol based sanitizers located around campus
  • Avoid those you are ill
  • Clean common areas in your room with an anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach wipes are great)
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, not directly into your hands, and wash hands immediately
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups and water bottles

For more information on the vaccine as well as tips on influenza prevention and care, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.