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Certain communicable diseases are more prevalent in campus communities. Learning more about the signs and symptoms, transmission, and prevention of these diseases may help you stay healthy.
Influenza, commonly called the "flu", is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms start suddenly, with fever (>100), weakness and fatigue, cough, headache, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Influenza spreads easily in secretions from the nose or throat, usually when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Learn more about influenza prevention, treatment, and when to seek medical attention.
Hepatitis B is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. The symptoms of hepatitis B include fatigue, poor appetite, fever, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Some persons may experience few or no symptoms. It is transmitted by coming in contact with the blood and body fluids of someone infected with the virus. A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B.
Measles cases are currently on the rise in the U.S. Most of these cases are "imported" from other countries experiencing measles outbreaks or where measles is endemic. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness. Symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, cough, and runny nose. Immunization with two doses of MMR vaccine is highly effective in preventing measles.
While meningococcal meningitis is relatively rare in the general population, there is a higher incidence in the college community. Symptoms of meningococcal infection may include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness or confusion, and/or a characteristic skin rash. The infection is spread by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat of an infected person. Transmission is almost always by close contact with a person who is not ill (an asymptomatic carrier). Approximately 10% of persons who develop the infection die. A meningococcal vaccine is recommended to decrease the chance of infection.
Once considered a childhood disease, mumps is on the rise again in adolescents and adults. Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, and swollen, tender salivary glands. One in three persons with the virus may have no symptoms at all. Mumps is spread in droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Appropriate immunization with MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is an important part of mumps prevention.
Pertussis, or "whooping cough", is an extremely infectious respiratory illness. Young adults may contract and spread pertussis unknowingly. The symptoms of pertussis occur in stages. The first stage begins like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, and cough. The second stage includes uncontrolled coughing followed by a whooping noise when the person breathes in air. Pertussis is spread through the air in droplets produced by sneezing and/or coughing. Having a current vaccine for pertussis is the most effective prevention, however it is important to see your health care provider if you think you have symptoms.
Tuberculosis ("TB") is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Certain people are at higher risk for contracting the infection or developing the disease once infected. One common risk factor for TB infection is residence in or travel to TB-endemic countries. These are countries with a high incidence of TB, defined by the World Health Organization as greater than 20 cases per 100,000.
While TB disease most often affects the lungs, it may occur anywhere in the body. Symptoms of TB disease include coughing for more than 3 weeks, fever, night sweats, fatigue, unexplained wieght loss, and loss of appetite. TB spreads through the air when a person with contagious TB coughs, laughs, sings, etc. The Student Health Center may help with preventative treatment and follow-up for students with TB infection (latent TB infection). Learn more about TB risk factors, symptoms, testing, and treatment.