Thursday, January 29, 2004

Important Health Update For The Washington College Community

The following announcements were made by President John Toll on January 19, 20 & 28, and precautions were taken by the College's Health Services to ensure the welfare of Washington College students, staff, and faculty. Medical professionals have ruled out SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and bacterial meningitis in the diagnosis of the student who passed away. In addition, in a letter dated January 30, 2004, from Maryland State Epidemiologist David Blythe, MD, MPH, to President Toll, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene assured him that its investigation of the student's illness "has not identified any evidence of a situation that requires special disease prevention actions on the part of you, the campus community, or other persons in Maryland." Concerned parents and students may contact Dean Maureen McIntire in the Office of Student Affairs.
Chestertown, MD, January 19, 2004 — This afternoon, a Washington College student was transported from the Chester River Hospital Center to the University of Maryland Hospital, where the student is being treated for influenza-like symptoms. There is no clear diagnosis at this time, but because of the student's travel and contacts over the holiday break, the Chester River Hospital Center included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as one of several possible causes. Tests are being conducted today, and doctors hope to have a conclusive diagnosis soon.
As a precautionary measure, members of the College's Health Services have identified and screened all of the student's close contacts on campus, and have advised the student's living companions to undertake a thorough disinfection of the shared living spaces.
Our medical staff believes that it is highly unlikely that this student has, in fact, contracted SARS, an infectious respiratory illness that shares early signs and symptoms with the common cold. Nevertheless, all students who come down with a respiratory ailment and who have a fever of 100.4 or greater should contact the College's Health Services or their primary care provider. If neither is available, students should seek medical attention at the Chester River Health Center emergency room.
To prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, students should cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and wash their hands frequently.
We will keep you apprised of any further developments as the information becomes available.
Chestertown, MD, January 20, 2004 — Please note the following important update to yesterday's report of a Washington College student transported to the University of Maryland Hospital with influenza-like symptoms. State health officials have now informed us that the student's signs and symptoms are NOT consistent with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Nevertheless we reiterate the need for vigilance among all members of the Washington College community during this flu season in taking precautions such as hand washing, and in reporting cold or flu symptoms accompanied by fever to the College's Health Services, a primary care provider, or, if neither is available, to the doctor on duty at the Chester River Health Center emergency room.

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