Public Health Awareness

Our name, “Salus,” is a Latin word for health and well-being. The mission of the University is to “enhance and protect health and well-being through education, research, patient care and community services worldwide.”

As part of our mission we offer the following information and links that may prove helpful:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. Coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold—through the air by coughing or sneezing; through close personal contact, like touching or shaking hands; by touching an object or surface with the viruses on it; and occasionally, through fecal contamination.

Symptoms of the Coronavirus can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. To minimize exposure and risk to the virus:

  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, do not use your hands!
  • Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched areas. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Contain - if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

Monkeypox is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

The virus is spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus and can be spread through saliva, such as sharing food or drinks. It usually starts with a few days of fever, head and muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands. This is what causes the iconic signs of mumps including puffy cheeks and a swollen, tender jaw. After the U.S. mumps vaccination program which began in 1967, there was more than a 99 percent decrease in both mumps and measles cases as a direct result of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the MMR vaccine is safe and effective. A person with two doses of the MMR vaccine has approximately an 88 percent reduction in the risk for mumps whereas a person with one dose has a 78 percent reduction in the risk for mumps. Outbreaks of mumps generally affect people who aren’t vaccinated and occur in close-contact settings such as schools and college campuses. The CDC recommends that during an outbreak, people who are at an increased risk for getting mumps receive a third dose of the vaccine.

Measles: Declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 as a result of the highly-effective vaccination program – the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine - the extremely infectious viral disease has since seen a resurgence. According to the CDC, measles in most cases is not lethal if treated properly. However, if not treated properly, it can lead to serious health risks including pneumonia, brain damage, and death. About 30 percent of all individuals affected with the measles suffer from ear infections which can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Early symptoms of measles don’t generally appear until about seven to 14 days after a person is infected and include cough, runny nose, red eyes, diarrhea, ear infection and the distinctive rash of tiny red spots over the body that most of us commonly associate with the disease.

Transmitted through sneezes and coughs of an infected person, measles can remain airborne for up to two hours after being released.

To prevent the spread of the disease parents of small children – who are at the highest risk of diseases – it is highly suggested that all children are vaccinated, rather than to rely on ‘indirect’ protection through herd immunity – where a majority of people in an area are vaccinated so fewer people get sick. If you suspect you or your child may have contracted the disease, contact your physician immediately and limit your interactions with others.

With colds, viruses and many communicable diseases, something as simple as handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song!) is a critical component in the prevention of infection. Using anti-bacterial wipes or sprays on frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, switches, toys, are also key factors. As always, check with your primary care provider when you have questions.

To ensure that you don’t fall victim to the flu, see your primary care physician, health department, or local pharmacy to receive your annual shot. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, which is why it is important to get your flu shot annually. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Thousands of deaths occur each year due to the flu and about 90% of those occur in people 65 years and older. Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop and provide protection, it is recommended to get your vaccination by the end of October, before flu season really gets under way.

West Nile Virus: In recent years, there have been increasing reports of mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus and persons sick with West Nile Virus in Philadelphia. West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause serious illness. The peak season for mosquitos is April through October. Philadelphia residents age 50 and older and those with weak immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from the virus. It is best to use insect repellent and wear long pants and sleeves when outdoors to prevent mosquito bites. There are no medications or vaccines to treat or prevent West Nile Virus. While many people infected with West Nile Virus do not experience any symptoms, anyone with symptoms such as severe fever, headache, neck stiffness, and/or confusion, should seek medical care immediately.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages that can often be prevented with vaccines and can usually be treated with antibiotics, antiviral drugs (such as Tamiflu), or specific drug therapies. Common signs of pneumonia include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. You are more likely to become ill with pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Ask your primary care physician if you are a candidate for a pneumonia vaccination.

Enterovirus (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses and its mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. According to the CDC, generally speaking infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. That's because they do not yet have immunity (protection) from previous exposures to these viruses. Adults can get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection. Enteroviruses can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s throat and nose. Check with your primary care physician if your child or you exhibit these symptoms.

Zika virus: In mid-2015, no one outside of medical circles had heard of the zika virus. By early 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a disease linked to the Zika virus in Latin America poses a global public health emergency. The WHO recommends a united response and puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola. Experts are concerned that the virus is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences. The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains, which can lead to future developmental issues. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned women who are pregnant or expect to be pregnant to avoid areas* where the mosquito-borne virus has been found. About one in five people infected with Zika virus become symptomatic. Characteristic symptoms include acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis. Clinical illness usually is mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and fatalities are rare. If you suspect you have or may have been exposed to the virus, see your physician right away.

Ebola concerns: Though now a considerably less-threatening disease, it is understandable that people remain concerned about the dangers of infection. Ebola, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). The CDC is one of the best sources of current information about Ebola and has established guidelines that are followed by our doctors, students and staff in our six clinical locations: The Eye Institute and its satellite locations, Pennsylvania Ear Institute, the Feinbloom Low Vision Clinic and Speech-Language Institute.