Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,
The University of Houston has been closely monitoring the emerging outbreak in China of the novel Coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV since its announcement to the public this month, and we maintain regular contact with local, state and federal health officials for the latest information. Raising awareness and keeping the University community well informed of this rapidly evolving situation is very important. Since the first case was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, there have been a growing number of reported cases including several in the United States. We have not identified any cases at our UH campuses. There have been no reported cases in Texas at this time. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers this new Coronavirus to be a serious public health threat, they consider the immediate risk to the American public to be low at this time.
In regard to this new Coronavirus and general preventive measures, we feel it is important for staff, faculty and students to:
- Recognize the symptoms of this illness which may include a high fever, cough, difficulty breathing, similar to what you may feel with the flu or a bad cold.
- Seek care and immediately notify the University if you have recently traveled within China and are experiencing these symptoms.
- Always practice good hygiene, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing food, cups or utensils.
- Make sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid personal contact with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, shared items; and lastly,
- Get a flu shot.
The incubation period (how soon the symptoms appear from the time of first exposure) for this kind of virus is typically 10-14 days. Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent coronavirus infections, including infections with 2019-nCoV.
Those who have recently visited China and are experiencing influenza-like illness, with fever greater than 100.3, and symptoms, including cough, body aches, severe sore throat, or runny nose, should consider seeking medical attention for the possibility of the flu, especially if symptoms worsen. You can contact the Student Health Center at 713-743-5151 and identify yourself as having flu-like symptoms. You may also consult with your regular health care provider or seek treatment at a local health center if you are overseas.
Faculty and staff who are ill with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their personal physician for further advice.
The University encourages the UH Community to heed U.S. Government warnings related to travel in China due to the uncertainty about where and how rapidly the virus is spreading, as well as limited capacity to assist travelers impacted by travel disruption or quarantine while abroad. The CDC currently recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to the Hubei Province, China including Wuhan and follow new developments at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china#travel-notices. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory to reconsider travel to China.
For additional information about Coronavirus, including signs and symptoms, transmission and risk of exposure, and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms, please refer to the links below. The CDC’s website and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will also issue guidance for those planning to travel or who have recently returned.
Dr. Vanessa Tilney
Chief Physician, Student Health Center
University of Houston