Friday, November 07, 2014

Marshall officials continuing infectious disease preparedness efforts

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Infectious diseases have been in the news lately and although the risk of a case of the Ebola virus in the Marshall University campus community is remote, university leaders and health officials have been working to make sure the university is prepared to deal with that possibility, as well as the potential for outbreaks of influenza and Enterovirus D68.

Tracy Smith, director of Marshall’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, says representatives of his office, the university’s Student Health Education Programs, Student Health Services, Department of Housing and Residence Life, and the INTO Marshall University program for international students have been coordinating infectious disease preparedness efforts for weeks, including reviewing the university’s Communicable Diseases Response plan and discussing procedures and immunization requirements for students.

Director of Student Health Education Programs Amy Saunders said the university follows guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and coordinates with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department regarding plans to address potential outbreaks of all infectious diseases. She added, “We have a great partnership with our local health department and work closely with them on the prevention of infectious diseases.  We have a well-developed emergency response plan, and we are currently reviewing our policies and procedures so we can make sure that we are doing everything we can to be prepared.”

The CDC advises the following measures to help prevent the spread of germs:


Specifically related to the Ebola virus, the Marshall planning group is taking the following measures:


Smith said, “The safety of the Marshall University community is our top priority. We are monitoring the Ebola situation very closely and are taking precautionary measures as recommended by federal, state and local public health officials.”

Medical personnel from Marshall Health and the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine also have been coordinating with university and community colleagues to determine risk and ensure the safety of the community.

They recommend that anyone who has traveled outside of the U.S. within the last 21 days and has a fever of more than 100.4°F (38°C) or has headache, weakness, muscle pain, vomitting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or unexplained bleeding seek medical care immediately  at the nearest hospital emergency department.

Dr. Joseph Werthammer, chief medical officer at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, said, “Marshall Health and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine are actively engaged in discussions regarding our protocols in the highly unlikely event a person with Ebola would present at one of our clinics or on our campus. We, like dozens of academic health centers and hospitals around the U.S., are following CDC guidelines and have in place procedures that protect our patients, students and staff.”

To learn more about infectious diseases, review the information on the CDC’s website at

Marshall students with questions about infectious diseases should contact Student Health Education Programs at 304-696-4800 or or

The university’s emergency management plan is available at 

There is also continuing education for physicians available at