Letter to Campus Community, 11/23/19: Health Advisory on Acute Respiratory Illness
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
We continue to be in the midst of cold and flu season in our community. In follow-up to a campus wide email on November 4th, we continue to see cases of Adenovirus on our campus.
Adenovirus is a type of virus that can cause a variety of illnesses including upper and lower respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infection, neurological infection and eye infection. There are many distinct types of adenovirus. Typically symptoms are relatively mild, and can present as an upper respiratory tract infection, similar to the "common cold" with cough, fever, and sore throat. People with adenovirus infections can also involve the lower respiratory tract (bronchitis or pneumonia), eyes (conjunctivitis or "pink eye"), gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea) , liver (hepatitis) or brain (encephalitis).
Most infections are mild and will go away without any treatment. There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infections. Rarely a person can have a severe illness or death.
Symptoms "mimic" other acute respiratory illnesses. Diagnosis of adenovirus infection is made by obtaining a nasal swab sample and sending it to a lab for specific adenovirus testing.
The most important measures to prevent spread of adenovirus infection to others is frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Adenovirus can survive on surfaces (such as door knobs, furniture, tables, utensils) for up to 30 days. In addition, adenovirus is a fairly "hardy" virus and is not readily killed with many typical disinfectants. Bleach-containing products should be used for cleaning.
It is important for people who are ill to "self-isolate" and avoid close contact with others. People with adenovirus infection can continue to shed virus for days to weeks, even after feeling well.
For additional specific information about Adenovirus Infections and outbreaks go to the following link:
Lehigh University Health and Wellness Team
Letter to Campus Community, 11/4/19: Health Advisory on Acute Respiratory Illness
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
This is a reminder that we are once again in the midst of cold and flu season in our community. The 'common cold' is often caused by viruses such as Rhinovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Parainfluenza Virus and Adenovirus. We have had several Adenovirus cases on our campus. It is important to remember that there are many, many strains of Adenovirus and, that while most of the strains cause relatively mild symptoms, certain strains have been associated with more severe infections.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. It is not too late to get a flu shot this year.
The Lehigh University Health & Wellness Center (HWC) continues to partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in their Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance Program. The HWC routinely sends samples from our students to the state for virus identification. The HWC continues to be diligent and aggressive with infection surveillance on our campus.
What to Expect
Most people get colds and the flu in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get these infections any time of the year. Symptoms can include:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- body aches
Most people recover from these infections within 7-10 days. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or other chronic or medical conditions may develop more serious illness.
How to Protect Yourself
Viruses that cause colds and the flu can spread from infected people to others through the air and through close personal contact. You can also get infected through contact with stool or respiratory secretions from an infected person. This can happen when you shake hands with someone who has a cold or flu, or touch a surface, like a doorknob, that has respiratory viruses on it, then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. You can help reduce your risk of getting these infections:
- Get vaccinated against the Flu! Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Unfortunately there is no vaccine available to protect you against the viruses that cause the common cold
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can enter your body this way and make you sick
- Stay away from people who are sick. Sick people can spread viruses that cause these infections through close contact with others
How to Protect Others
If you have a cold or the flu, you should follow these tips to help prevent spreading it to other people:
- If you are sick with cold or flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine), except to get medical care or for other necessities
- Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands
- Move away from people before coughing or sneezing
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose
- Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as keyboards and doorknobs
How to Feel Better
- There is no cure for a cold or the flu. To feel better, you need to get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids
- Over-the-counter medicines may help ease many symptoms
- If you are diagnosed with the flu, you may be prescribed antiviral medications such as Tamiflu. Antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications\
For more information, please visit
and the CDC's website on the flu: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm and on
the common cold: https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/.
Health & Wellness Center Team
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
We are writing to make you aware that the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center has been seeing cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease (HFMD), which is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than five years old. It can also occur in older children and adults. The infection usually starts with a fever, sore throat, malaise (general feeling of being unwell), decrease in appetite, followed in 1-2 days by appearance of painful sores in the mouth and a non- itchy rash, which characteristically appears on the palms and soles of the feet, but may be on any part of the body. The sores that appear in the back of the mouth can blister and can be quite painful and may make it uncomfortable to eat and drink, making dehydration a common complication. Symptoms typically resolve in 7-10 days without medical treatment.
Complications are uncommon, but if high fever persists or the condition worsens, the affected individuals should seek medical care.
HFMD is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus group, most commonly Coxsackievirus A16. These viruses can be found in an infected person’s nose and throat secretions (saliva, sputum or nasal mucus), in blister fluid and in feces.
The disease can be spread through direct personal contact, infected air (when an infected person coughs or sneezes), contact with feces (from the unwashed hands of an infected person) and contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
Outbreaks can occur when individuals are gathered in residence halls or locker rooms, and are not uncommon on college campuses. Methods used to prevent the spread of the disease include frequent handwashing with soap and water – particularly after using the restroom – and cleaning and regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, keyboards and electronic devices. Experts also suggest avoiding close personal, physical contact (such as hugging and kissing) and avoiding the sharing of eating utensils or drinks.
You can read more about HFMD at
Generally, a person with hand, foot, and mouth disease is most contagious during the first week of illness. People can sometimes be contagious due to continued shedding of the virus in feces for days or weeks after symptoms go away. Some people, especially adults, may become infected and not develop any symptoms, but they can still spread the virus to others. This is why people should always try to maintain good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, so they can minimize their chance of spreading or getting infections. The viruses are “hardy” and can survive up to two weeks on surfaces, so cleaning contaminated surfaces with soap and water and then disinfecting them with a dilute solution of chlorine-containing bleach may help prevent spread of the virus.
Although there is no vaccine to prevent the disease, or a specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease, there are several things that you can do to relieve symptoms. These include taking over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever with either ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can also use salt water rinses, mouthwashes or over-the-counter throat sprays that numb mouth pain.
If you have any questions or concerns or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Lehigh University Health & Wellness Center at 610-758-3870.
Health and Wellness Center Team
NEXT STUDENT FLU IMMUNIZATION CLINICS
Letter Sent to Campus Community, 8/30/19: Health Advisory on Mumps
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
We wanted to make you aware that a student came to the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center this afternoon with at least one symptom that could be consistent with mumps, but a conclusive diagnosis can only be made with a mumps test. We have obtained the appropriate tests and are awaiting results from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, which should be available early next week.
Out of an abundance of caution, and according to the Lehigh University Health & Wellness Center protocol as well as standard recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health, the student did leave campus to return to the family home, where the student will remain for the recommended five-day isolation period. In accordance with advice from the Bethlehem Health Bureau, we are also contacting individuals who were in close contact with the student to make them aware.
As a reminder, even completion of the recommended two dose series of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) doesn't confer 100% protection from mumps.
More information about mumps -- including symptoms, care and prevention -- was included in an earlier message we sent to campus. You can read that message in its entirety here:
We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center
Letter Sent to Campus Community, 8/21/19: Message Regarding Mumps
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
We are writing to make you aware that a student who arrived at Lehigh on Sunday has been diagnosed with mumps, based on a positive test result that we received from the Pennsylvania Department of Health this afternoon. The student presented to the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center on Monday and was evaluated and tested. Out of an abundance of caution, the student was immediately placed in isolation until test results came back. The student will remain in isolation until Saturday. That time frame is in ine with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Bethlehem Health Bureau. We have also been working with the Dean of Students office and Housing Services to make sure that the student's needs are being met while in isolation.
The student has had very limited contact with other individuals on the Lehigh campus, but we will be reaching out to those who may have had even minimal contact while on campus to make sure all proper precautions have been taken.
Mumps is caused by a virus and typically causes pain, swelling and tenderness of the parotid glands. The parotid glands sit in front of the lower front edge of the ear and the swelling often obscures the angle of the jaw. This swelling usually lasts at least two days and can last up to ten days.
Fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and loss of appetite often precede parotid swelling by two to three days.
The incubation period from exposure to the virus to onset of symptoms is 12 - 25 days, with people typically showing symptoms starting on days 16 -18.
Mumps is most infectious from two days before, and until five days after, the onset of parotid gland swelling.
Mumps is primarily spread via direct contact from droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. The virus may also be spread indirectly when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and then someone else touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose. Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox.
Risk for infection increases with prolonged close contact, with roommates, housemates and intimate partners being particularly vulnerable.The risk for infection is much higher for those who are unvaccinated.
There is no 'cure' for mumps. Bedrest, fluids and supportive care medications are often recommended. Most symptoms resolve within a week or two.
Occasionally, complications such as swelling of the male and female reproductive organs, swelling of the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis, meningitis), pancreatitis and hearing loss can occur.
You can read about mumps in this Pennsylvania Department of Health Fact Sheet:
More information about mumps can also be found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control at:
Most students at Lehigh have had both of their mumps vaccines, which are administered as a combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) as part of the childhood recommended vaccines. Lehigh requires that all incoming students provide evidence of two vaccinations against mumps or proof of immunity against mumps.
MMR vaccines are highly effective and the most effective prevention for mumps infection. However, the two doses of the MMR vaccine do not guarantee full immunity. Although there is a recommendation from the CDC to offer a third MMR during a mumps outbreak, that is not being recommended at this time.
Students can check their immunization history by signing into their secure Patient Portal found on our website, www.lehigh.edu/health. Once logged in, students can simply hit the 'Immunizations' tab followed by the 'Print History' button.
Students who have not received their mumps (MMR) vaccines should contact the Bethlehem Health Bureau at 610-865-7083 to schedule a vaccination. Students can also contact their primary care physician's office to schedule vaccination there. In the event of an outbreak, students who are unable to provide evidence of two mumps vaccinations can be excluded from campus until 25 days after the last case of mumps.
Students who have immunocompromising conditions or are on immunocompromising medications who may be particularly susceptible to infection, should contact their treating health care provider to discuss their particular risk and recommendations.
Students experiencing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and loss of appetite should contact the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 to schedule an appointment to be evaluated. As a reminder, these symptoms are also very common with many other viral illnesses and not necessarily indicative of mumps.
We urge members of the campus community to practice routine precautions to help prevent the spread of illness, which include the following:
Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough into your elbow instead of your hand.
Wash hands frequently and thoroughly throughout the day, or use alcohol-based sanitizers.
Avoid sharing food and drinks (this includes drinking games) or participating in activities that result in saliva exchange.
Stay home from work or class when sick to avoid spreading the illness to others.
We will keep the campus community informed of any additional developments. In the meantime, we encourage anyone with questions or concerns to contact the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 or by email at email@example.com.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Executive Director of the Health and Wellness Center