By Christopher Galvan
The California State University’s Channel Islands and Long Beach campus communities have been warned about possible health risks after students of both universities were diagnosed with measles.
Twenty students from Cal State Long Beach were exposed to the measles after they went on a field trip over winter break with an infected student.
City health officials say that the infection is not campus-wide, and only affected the group of students that traveled off-campus together.
Last Friday, Cal State Channel Islands confirmed that a student living off-campus had contracted the disease. The university warned students in three of its on-campus buildings to review their immunization records and take precautions after the student disclosed where he had been prior to becoming aware of his condition.
Although there are no signs of the highly contagious disease at Cal Poly Pomona, Student Health Services and the Wellness Center remind students to maintain healthy lifestyle and hygiene habits, especially during flu season.
SHS physician Timothy Moody said that CPP is at a limited risk of the measles coming to the campus, given the situations at Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Channel Islands.
“The risk of measles here related to cases at either Cal State Channel Islands or Cal State Long Beach is small, but real,” Moody said. “It depends on how much mixing there is between students from CPP and students of the other campuses, as well as the level of immunization among those students.”
Moody says that CPP students are required to get measles vaccinations, as are all CSU students. While the university assumes that students who have graduated from high schools in California are already immunized, other non-resident students are required to show proof of vaccination or immunity to the measles within their first quarter at CPP, according to CPP’s immunization requirements. While there is no measles-only vaccine, SHS offers the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine for $67.
Moody says that SHS is prepared to handle sick students, and can provide vaccinations for students who are fully or partially immunized. In addition, SHS can provide blood testing to determine students’ immunity to the measles virus if they are unsure about their vaccination or cannot locate their immunization records.
“Nothing short of immunization is protective,” Moody says. “Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus. A small percentage of people, about 5 percent, never develop immunity to measles even when they have had the recommended two doses of MMR vaccine. To protect these people and to prevent sustained transmission of measles requires an immunization rate close to 100 percent.”
The Wellness Center’s Health Educator Andrea Lueskow, said that washing hands, getting enough sleep and reducing stress are paramount to staying healthy.
Exercise regularly,” says Lueskow. “Your body can fight stress better when it is fit. It is important to get enough rest and sleep to recover from stressful events, and not to rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress. Instead, seek out social support.”
Lueskow said that students can better protect themselves from colds and the flu this season by avoiding contact with sick friends and relatives, as well as steering clear of germs.
“If it is not possible to avoid contact with anyone who has a cold or the flu, the next best thing is to wash your hands constantly and thoroughly, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which you can get for free at the Wellness Center,” she said. “Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially after shaking hands or touching objects like door-knobs. Stay home if you are sick, and encourage friends to stay home if they become ill.”
Although the threat of the measles arrived quickly in California, proper hygiene and immunization maintenance is the best preemptive solution to keep the university free of any infection.
Some students, like third year engineering technology student Tyler Ortiz, encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for students to stay healthy.
“Staying hydrated is one of the biggest things for me,” said Ortiz. “Like a car without gas, your body can’t run without water.”
Although Ortiz believes that SHS is capable of handling an outbreak of measles or other diseases on campus, he says the university can better educate students about the dangers associated with them.
“I think they could spread more awareness of what’s going on, and educate students on what exactly the measles is and how you could catch it and what to do to prevent it,” he said.
While the virus has yet to come to CPP, its arrival in California is a timely reminder to stay healthy and safe during the flu and cold season by washing hands, eating well and getting enough sleep. Moreover, the need for up-to-date immunization has never been more important.
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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