Magazine article University Business

Campuses Feel SARS Threat: Study-Abroad Programs: Better Safe Than Sorry. (Update)

Magazine article University Business

Campuses Feel SARS Threat: Study-Abroad Programs: Better Safe Than Sorry. (Update)

Article excerpt

With headlines like "Mystery Illness on the Move" and "Will SARS Strike Here?" splashed all over newspapers and magazines, it's no wonder college and university administrators are concerned about the safety of their students traveling abroad. By late April, the pneumonia-like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)--with its symptoms of high fever, headache and body aches, dry cough, and shortness of breath--had infected almost 4,290 people in 19 countries (including 39 in the U.S.) and killed at least 251. What is most frightening about SARS is the mystery of exactly how it spreads, how long its incubation period lasts, and when or if a vaccine will ever be available.

"Colleges should not be alarmed; however, they should be aware, cautious, and plan accordingly," says James Turner, director of Student Health at the University of Virginia and chair of the American College Health Association's Vaccine Preventable Disease Task Force.

Specifically, Turner says that campus health providers should be learning about the disease and the criteria for suspected cases from the World Health Organization (www.who.int) and the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), as welt as planning how to handle suspected cases in terms of hospitalization, treatment, and isolation. He adds that student health centers should be working with their local hospitals and health departments to deal with any SARS threats.

Turner also suggests that campus health providers assist study-abroad programs in determining whether or not to cancel such programs to China and Hong Kong. …

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