There has been an outbreak of measles occurring at various locations around the country, largely attributed to a higher percentage of unvaccinated individuals. Although there have been no cases to date in North Carolina, you can protect yourself and the UNC community by making sure you are up to date with your vaccinations and proper self-care.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can easily spread from one person to the other – even by being in the same room with an infected individual, as it is spread by airborne droplets. The majority of the individuals who catch measles are unvaccinated, but rarely people can get it after vaccination. Symptoms begin with a fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and red eyes, followed by a red rash that spreads all over the body.
So how should you protect yourself?
1. Make sure you have received two doses of the Measles vaccine. Typically this is given as a combined vaccine called the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Most everyone received this vaccine in childhood so check your immunization records.
If not, students can get vaccinated at CHS, for a small fee. Call 919-966-22181 to make an appointment. Faculty and staff should visit their private health care provider or pharmacy.
2. Keep yourself healthy. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water; sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow; and avoid sharing drinks, food, and utensils. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface where an infected person coughed or sneezed and is still capable of infecting others in that time frame.
3. Watch for symptoms of a high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes followed by a red, raised rash. Contact CHS 919-966-2281 if you experience them and ask to speak with a nurse.
4. Be a good citizen and stay at home if you are sick. Don’t go to class or work, the dining hall, social or public events, or use public transportation. Use good respiratory hygiene and cover your cough and sneeze and wash your hands frequently. Treatment is symptomatic with lots of bed rest, increased fluids, and over the counter pain medicines like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
More information available at the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/measles/resources/index.html