COVID-19 has affected countries across the globe and all 50 states in the U.S according to the CDC’s site. Pitt county now has 6 reported cases of COVID-19, found on Pitt county’s site, and with this disease affecting the communities students need to look out for the symptoms.
Paul Cook, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, said COVID-19 is not the virus, it's the disease caused by the virus. He said SARS-CoV-2 is the name of a newly described coronavirus, named because of their appearance by electron microscopy.
Cook said the most common symptoms caused by this virus are fever, cough and shortness of breath. With the serious disease, patients may need mechanical ventilation. However, he said this virus has caused many common symptoms of another virus, influenza, which may cause similar illness, but is much less likely to do so. Allergies do not cause fever and do not usually lead to mechanical ventilation, according to Cook.
“If students do not have a local physician, they should contact the Student Health Services. Otherwise, contact the health department for further information,” Cook said.
If students feel they have contracted the disease, Cook said they should contact their physician. He said kits are available in the area but are in short supply if a student was to be tested for the virus.
This disease predominantly affects the respiratory tract but may also affect the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), Cook said. He said while younger people with underlying cardiovascular and pulmonary disease are also at risk for worse disease.
“Elderly (>60 years of age have the worst outcomes. Younger persons, particularly those with underlying cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, are also at risk for worst disease. Infants and children can be infected but do not tend to have as serious of an illness,” Cook said.
With information constantly changing on the virus, Ellen Goldberg, associate director for clinical operations at Student Health Services (SHS), said to check for updated information on the ECU news services coronavirus page.
“It is thought that most young healthy people are at a low risk of severe illness from COVID-19, but there is a lot about the virus we still do not know or understand. Some people in "low risk" groups end up with severe cases and hospitalization, even death. NY for example is seeing a lot of cases occur in 18 to 49 year olds, whereas in other places it seems to affect those 50 and older more,” Goldberg said
Goldberg said it could be that the 18 to 49 age group have some kind of underlying issue that makes them more susceptible, or for some reason the virus affects them differently. She said all persons should practice social distancing, including college students, to help slow the spread of the virus.
The SHS website lists illness prevention as followed: wash hands regularly with warm water and soap, don’t share food and beverages with others, cover your cough, avoid touching your face, practice social distancing – maintain distances of three to seven feet from others when possible, say no to the handshake, avoid contact with sick persons, don’t travel if you are sick, clean commonly used surfaces and objects and monitor the CDC website for updates.
There is testing available at SHS but it must follow strict guidelines put in place by the CDC and state lab, according to the website. Students who are suspected to have coronavirus will be asked to self-quarantine and if they live on campus are encouraged to travel home if possible. Students unable to go home and in self quarantine should contact the residence hall coordinator.
If you feel sick and have traveled to a high risk area or come in contact with someone who has the virus call SHS at 252-328-6841 or your local health care provider. For more information on the virus visit the CDC’s website.