Communicable Diseases

Dear MHC community, A quick review of the news reminds us that there is always a potential for communicable disease within our community. Each year the influenza virus emerges and this past year there has been an increase in the cases of mumps, nationally and regionally. As our students travel to and from many countries around the globe we are aware of the ongoing outbreaks of malaria, cholera, zika, etc. Based on these experiences, we maintain our campus -wide planning for the prevention and ma nagement of communicable disease within our community.

There are several key prevention strategies all community members should adopt:

  • Practice precautions for prevention of tick and mosquito borne illnesses, risk continues until the first hard frost usual ly in October. Please reference the DPH site for more information
  • Obtain the required and recommended immunizations
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene- e.g., cover your cough and cough into your elbow
  • Be consistent with good hand washing techniques - wash long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice
  • Maintain proper rest and nutrition
  • Seek care for severe flu like symptoms or rash with fever or blisters.

I urge all MHC families to develop contingency plans to manage communicable illness should it arise. This includes planning for the student to be isolated with your family when feasible. All efforts will be made by faculty an d staff to help students maintain their course work during any period of isolation and recuperation.

The Health Center provides accessible acute care services for students who develop symptoms of influenza or other viral illness. We have established isolation strategies that comply with the recommendations from the Center of Disease Control and we work cooperatively with the Massachusetts Department of Health when there is a disease occurrence or outbreak. We maintain supplies of seasonal influenza vaccin e. Information regarding the availability and cost of the vaccine will be posted on our website as these specifics are known. All members of the community with chronic medical conditions which place them at increased risk for complications from influenza are strongly encouraged to receive flu vaccine. The flu season in New England can start as early as September and last into early May. Typically the flu season is November to March.

All students are required to receive vaccines or document immunity for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, meningitis and pertussis. Students who are not immunized due to religious or medical exemptions will be required to leave the community if an outbreak occurs. The period of exclusion will vary based on the outbreak but may last up to three weeks. Students, who are ill or in close contact with an ill student and cannot leave the campus, will be placed in isolation and restricted from all class and campus activities.

Please refer to the other pages of our website for a description of our services, hours of operation and recommendations for self -care supplies. Students are encouraged to call our nursing triage line if they are uncertain about the need for evaluation.

Isolation

The college complies with the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommendations and guidelines when communicable disease occurs. The Health Center conducts contact tracing, places students in isolation and requires preventative immunization as indicated by the specific guidelines. The cost of required lab testing or immunizations which are not provided free of charge by the state, will be billed consistent with our billing procedures.

We expect students who require isolation due to a communicable illness and who reside within a 250 mile radius, or a four hour drive of the campus, to return home to their families to recuperate. Families will need to transport their students home in a private car since public transportation is not an option when a student is contagious. Students who are not able to return home will be placed in on -campus housing specifically designated for isolation for the required period.

Please contact me with questions or concerns that you may have.
Email me: Health-Services@mtholyoke.edu or call 413 -538 -2170

Karen B Engell RNC, MS WHNP Executive Director of College Health Service