Health Topics

Below are helpful tips for a healthy, successful school year.

Meningococcal Vaccine

Although not a requirement for entry at UMB, the meningococcal vaccine should be considered for students if they have not already received the vaccine. Meningococcal disease consists of a bacterial infection with Neisseria meningitides causing meningitis, septicemia, and bacteremia. N. meningitides spreads through exchange of respiratory secretions and/or saliva. There are five strains (A, B, C, W, and Y) that cause most meningococcal disease worldwide. Those at risk for meningococcal disease include youth or young adults, people living on college campuses, travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa and some immunocompromised individuals.

Symptoms of meningitis:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
  • Altered mental status (confusion)
  • Stiff neck

Symptoms of meningococcal septicemia (aka meningococcemia):

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold chills
  • Severe aches or pain in the muscles, joints, chest, or abdomen (belly)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • A purple rash can be seen in later stages

Typically, the meningococcal vaccine is given at ages 11-12 and then a booster is given at 15-16 years of age. Dedending on your risk factors, the meningococcal vaccine can be given up until age 55.

You can get your meningococcal vaccine at the UMaryland Immediate Care. The immunization is billed through your insurance company; please contact them for their coverage of the vaccine.

Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html

 

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine

The HPV virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Most sexually active individuals have or will contract a strain/multiple strains of HPV in their life time. There are more than 150 strains of HPV, 40 of which affect the genital area. Infection with HPV can lead to the development of oralpharyngeal, vaginal, cervical, penile, and rectal cancers. HPV is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. Transmission can occur with asymptomatic individuals through the process of viral shedding.

Symptoms of HPV are discrete if present at all. Some symptoms might be:

  • Genital warts/bumps
  • Genital itching

Cervical papsmears screen for changes in the cervical tissue related to HPV. The frequency of screening cervical pap smears is determined by age and prior results history.

The HPV vaccine covers nine of the most common strains that affect the genital tract. Typically, the HPV vaccine series is given during the preteen and teenage years, but if you haven’t received all three doses yet and are under 27 years of age, please go to UMaryland Immediate Care to get the vaccine.

The immunization is billed through your insurance company; please contact them for their coverage of the vaccine.

Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/hcp/know-facts.html

 

Upper-Respiratory Infections (URIs)

With the start of the new school year and the fall season arriving, the number of URIs increases dramatically. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause common-cold/upper-respiratory symptoms. These viruses are annoying and generally slow us down, but our bodies will fight off the virus typically within seven to 10 days. The course of an upper-respiratory infection starts generally with malaise and fever, followed by runny nose, nasal congestion, and a sore throat. Then one may develop a cough.  

Over-the-counter medications are available for symptomatic relief, but our immune systems otherwise need time to do their job. Antibiotics do not treat viral URIs. “Super bugs” (resistant bacteria) are emerging as a result of antibiotic overuse and resistance.

Symptoms of a URI include but are not limited to:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Sore throat
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough (dry or moist)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Ear fullness

The best remedy for a URI is adequate sleep, hydration, mild exercise, and time. If your symptoms are not improving or you feel you are worsening, please visit UMaryland Immediate Care.

Source, CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/colds.html