Two people are being monitored for the coronavirus Friday, Jan 31 2020 

By Maggie Vancampen —

A second email sent to students and faculty said two non-students have traveled back from China and are being monitored off-campus as of Jan. 31. Travel has now been suspended to China and any other countries that have been identified with the virus.

Executive Vice President and Vice Provost Beth Boehm said, “The university has informed the Louisville Health Department about both of these individuals and will continue to follow Health Department and CDC recommendations in handling any cases of individuals arriving from countries in which the virus has been confirmed.”

According to a previous email, since the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) surfaced in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread to more than 16 countries with five confirmed cases in the United States.

The first email said symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties just like the flu. The virus has even led to respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Campus Health Services has said students should see their doctor or call immediately if they have traveled abroad and are experiencing these symptoms. Campus Health Services has also confirmed cases of the flu which has no relation to the virus.

U of L spokesperson John Karman said, “We have experts in environmental health and safety on this campus, and we would coordinate with other agencies to address coronavirus or any other similar outbreak situations.”

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to follow normal strategies to protect themselves like they would from the cold or flu:

  • get a flu shot
  • wash hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • cover coughs and sneezes
  • clean and disinfect surfaces
  • avoid contact with sick people

Campus Health Services number is 502-852-6479 (Belknap) or 502-852-6446 (Health Sciences). For more information, visit the Campus Health Services website.

To learn more about the coronavirus, visit the CDC coronavirus website.

Officials declined further comment upon receiving the second email.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Flu Cases Uptick In Kentucky, With Four Deaths Friday, Dec 13 2019 

Four people have died from the flu in Kentucky since August. State officials say all those people had other health conditions, and hadn’t received the flu shot.

As flu season ramps up, the Kentucky Department of Public Health also reports that there have been 1,622 confirmed flu cases across the state. Acting State Epidemiologist Doug Thoroughman said not getting vaccinated increases the risk of death, especially in people who have existing health conditions.

“If you have other significant health issues, the flu can really push you over the edge and cause really significant health problem,” Thoroughman said.

One of the reported deaths is from Louisville; an unvaccinated older adult with medical conditions died Dec. 7. Louisville health officials are also reporting a big increase in flu cases over the past two weeks.  

“The fact that we are seeing flu death so early in the year and the fact that Australia has just weathered one of its worst flu seasons on record may mean that we are in for a severe flu season here in the United States and in the rest of the northern hemisphere,” said Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness in a press release.

About 12,000 to 61,000 people die every year from the flu or flu-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Health officials recommend people get a flu shot, which is covered by most insurance plans. The recommendation is especially important for children under age five, adults over age 65, pregnant women, nursing home residents and people with chronic conditions.

Thoroughman said Kentucky’s peak flu season usually happens in February or March. And he said the state count of cases and deaths is likely underreported. Regional officials try to identify people who’ve died from the flu, and coroner’s reports are used to identify cases.

“They could have had a heart attack, but it could have been caused because they had influenza,” Thoroughman said. “But you would list by those myocardial infarction as the cause of death, and not flu. You might not even test for flu because the person had a heart attack. We definitely will miss cases every year.”

 

Washing your hands won’t cut it: Free flu shots for Belknap students Friday, Sep 27 2019 

By Catherine Brown —

The University of Louisville started providing free flu shots to students, faculty and staff on Belknap campus Sept. 23. This is a necessity for any individual who will be on any U of L campus this flu season.

According to the Center for Disease Control, vaccines produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. The immune system often develops sickness-like symptoms such as a fever after receiving a vaccine, but these symptoms are normal and help the body to develop immunity. After these symptoms disappear, the body will remember how to fight that disease in the future should a patient get infected. The CDC also states that those infected shortly before or after the time of the vaccination might still develop the disease as the body has not had enough time to create these memory cells.

The University provided flu shots to students attending classes at the HSC campus last week. U of L even provides free flu and cold self-care kits to students. These kits can be found at Campus Health Medical Services, the Health Promotion office and at designated Flu-shot stations.

Biology professors have been teaching about viruses, bacteria and prevention, and have been telling their students common sense ways to prevent illnesses. One such way is simply by washing your hands.

One of the worst habits that leads to large-spread illness is not washing hands after coughing, sneezing, touching doorknobs, electronics, eating, etc. Not washing hands after these daily routines allows the virus to linger and be picked up by somebody else. This is especially dangerous for immuno-compromised individuals such as those with AIDS, cancer, diabetes and genetic disorders according to cancer.org.

Even U of L students agree that you need to get your flu shot.

“Flu shots are necessary to get because its best to be protected against the disease so you won’t have a chance of getting the virus,” said Destiny Smith, a pre-nursing student.

The debate regarding vaccine hesitancy is ongoing, but the suggested link between vaccines and neurological or physical disorders has since been disproven. Instead, more people tend to not get vaccinations once a disease becomes less prevalent.

Doctors aren’t just suggesting flu shots for fun. People often think they won’t catch a disease because of their good hygienic habits or a strong immune system, but these things aren’t always enough to protect you. Bacteria and viral infections are everywhere, and we carry more of these in our body than we assume.

The World Health Organization claims that about 284,500 people died as a result of the 2009 flu pandemic. Part of this was because people underestimated the seriousness of the H1N1 virus and didn’t receive the flu shot.

Nobody wants to catch your virus. Nobody wants to shake hands with you when you’re carrying harmful bacteria. Simple hand washing isn’t going to make the flu virus go away. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Flu Season Starts Sunday; Kentucky Officials Urge Vaccines Friday, Sep 27 2019 

Health officials are urging Kentuckians to get a flu vaccine as the start of the 2019-2020 season kicks off on Sunday.

The flu season usually lasts until mid-May, and last year’s season was the longest recorded at 21 weeks. Department for Public Health Clinical Affairs Senior Deputy Commissioner Connie White said the flu vaccine usually takes two weeks until it’s fully effective.

“Get that in your system because it does take a while before that will actually start developing the kind of protection that you need from the flu,” White said.

White said there have already been 154 laboratory-confirmed flu cases since August in the commonwealth. Nationally during the last flu season, there were 647,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths from the flu. In Kentucky 194 people died, including two children.  

Kristina Bryant, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at the University of Louisville Hospital, said some people die from the flu virus itself. But many people get a secondary bacterial infection because their immune system is weakened.

“Every year, people get sick, some flu need to be hospitalized, and some die,” Bryant said. “And so there’s no reason to think that this year is going to be any different.”

The state’s first flu report will come out on Oct. 11, and is based on laboratory-confirmed cases. White said these reports don’t include all the flu cases because health providers are not required to notify the state when they diagnose the virus. But the reports do provide information for the public and for the state on which to base public health outreach efforts.

“So we are getting just a tip of the iceberg,” White said. “But what we get, we know is absolute and true flu.”

The state also gathers voluntary-submitted data from hospitals and doctor’s offices for influenza-like illnesses that haven’t been lab-verified.

“Your nurse practitioner examines you and says, ‘I think you have the flu go home,’ – if there’s no testing done, then we don’t have a way to capture that data,” White said, so the state reports that as a secondary number.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are a few different groups of people who are most at-risk for suffering more severe complications. Those include children between six months and five years old, pregnant women, people over age 50, residents of nursing homes and people in contact with those groups.

Symptoms of flu include cough, fever, headache, sore throat, sneezing and body aches.