Salt Lake Community College students were notified Thursday April 14 via the College’s website of a possible measles outbreak that could affect students. SLCC was notified by both Utah and Salt Lake Valley Health Departments that an individual, who attended the Nicholas Kristof lecture at SLCC’s South City Campus on April 11, had been infected with the measles virus at that time. That same individual attended an Awards Banquet at the University of Utah’s Rice Eccles Stadium two days later on April 13.
SLCC student and English major Ashley Harrison said that she was not aware of any notices posted by SLCC about the measles, and that she would of liked to have seen something more publicized about the information.
“I only check MyPage if I have a question with my grade or something. I don’t check that every day,” Harrison said.
SLCC journalism student Reuben Wolsey also was not aware of the information that was posted on SLCC’s website, that is until a ABC Channel 4 news crew showed up to interview him. He then noticed the link.
“I think if they perceive a potential measles outbreak as a problem then they ought to broadcast the information through their network of teachers instead of putting a tiny message on the web homepage that can be easily overlooked,” Wolsey said.
Joy Tlou, Public Relations Director of SLCC, said that they do have several procedures in place like the posted information or if during a major outbreak or natural disaster, a reverse phone call system that allows the college to electronically record and send an emergency notice to students who have registered for the service through MyPage.
“We took all of our direction through the Department of Health, and over the course of Wednesday, they set up recourses and an information hotline as well as a referral service. We then posted everything on our website by 10 a.m. Thursday morning,” Tlou said.
“The thing that we need to be clear about is that we primarily are not in the public health business, and so we have to rely on public health authorities any time a situation like this comes up. It’s the same system that we used during the recent H1N1 outbreak,” Tlou continued.
SLCC issued a statement on procedures students should follow including a phone number to the Health Departments Poison Control Center that they can utilize if they believe they could be at risk. SLCC’s Health and Wellness Center said students have three options available to them if they attended either the Nicholas Kristof event or the Awards Banquet at the U of U and who are unclear if they have had an MMR vaccine.
“You can get an MMR shot within three days of exposure or if its been past three days and up to six days, you can be administered an immunoglobulin,” Michelle Neeshan of SLCC’s Health and Wellness Centers said.
Neeshan also said that students could receive an immunity blood test that will test for any antibodies in the blood that would suggest the student had received the MMR beforehand.
SLCC’s Health and Wellness Center is urging students to follow instructions posted on the College website if they were at either event and believe that they were exposed or anyone who maybe have a high risk of catching the virus.
“If you are carrying the measles then you do not want to be in public. It’s for public safety and community responsibility,” Lorri Castro Aguilera said, Director of Health and Wellness Services.
Aguilera said that any student who attended the listed events, and are feeling ill with flu and/or cold like symptoms should notify their doctor immediately. The symptoms include fever over 101 degrees, cough, sore throat, chills, headache and a red blotchy rash. The incubation period once exposed is 7 to 10 days and symptoms usually show up in form of cold/flu like symptoms 4 to 5 days after exposure. Individuals are also contagious throughout the incubation period as well as the rash period, usually lasting between 4 to 7 days.
Aguilera also said that those students who do not have proof of any vaccination of the MMR could still come to the clinic and get one immediately for $18. If students cannot afford the cost of an MMR or any other service the Health and Wellness Center provides, Aguilera said that they will work with each student and will not deny any student services for their inability to pay.
“We have services that will allow students to receive the care they need even throughout each semester. We have programs that will allow them to pay for their services if they cannot afford it right then,” Aguilera said.
These programs include a small payment installation program, a low-income program that if a student meets the requirements, can help pay for most or all Health and Wellness Services. In addition, students can earn community service hours working with the clinic in payment of any bill. Aguilera said that students who choose the work option could reduce the amount owed on a student’s bill by $10 per hour. For more information or for the Health Department’s Poison Control Center go to slcc.edu or check MyPage.