From Health Center Director James Guest: Important health recommendations

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people reporting symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea this week within the UNL campus community. Because of the need to protect the health of everyone on campus, I am sending you recommendations from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and urge you to follow them.

Dr. James Guest, Director, University Health Center

1. Those who experience diarrhea and/or vomiting lasting more than 24 hours should contact their the University Health Center or their health care provider. This is also respiratory flu season and we are reminding students, faculty and staff about ways to avoid becoming sick. To lessen spread of disease, please follow preventive practices.

2. Thorough hand washing is one of the most important ways of preventing infection. Hands can move germs to other places. For example, failing to wash hands after using the toilet can spread germs to anything the hands touch, such as food, toilet handles, telephones and computers. The major sources of hand contamination include raw food, surfaces such as toilets, and food preparation surfaces. Germs can survive for several hours on surfaces.Many germs can't be killed by alcohol hand sanitizers, so frequent hand washing with soap and warm water is important to remove germs. You should wash your hands often throughout the day and especially:

- after being in contact with someone who is ill;
- after using the bathroom;
- before preparing and eating food;
- after changing a diaper or helping a child use the bathroom; and
- after handling raw meats, poultry, or eggs.

Hands should always be dried thoroughly.

3. In addition to hand hygiene, the following are some general good health measures:

- Stay home when you are sick and at least a day after vomiting and diarrhea stops.
- Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items.
- Do not share food items (for example, bowls of popcorn, individual slices of pizza, etc.).
- Do not prepare food or provide health care for others while you are sick and for at least two to three days after you recover.
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces after someone vomits or has diarrhea. If you live in student housing, and vomit or have diarrhea, make sure you clean your living area thoroughly or call student housing for guidance.
- Sometimes when you are sick with an intestinal illness, you may not be able to get to a bathroom quickly. If this happens and clothes or other linens are soiled, remove and wash them with hot water and soap, as soon as possible. If you are unable to wash clothing, rinse it as well as possible and place it into a sealed plastic bag. Make sure to wash your hands after handling soiled clothes or bedding.

4. Flush any vomit or other waste in a toilet. Put materials that you cannot flush, such as paper towels, into a trash bag. Tie the trash bag closed and throw it away. Keep the surrounding area clean.

Please contact UNL Student Health at 402-472-5000 or the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program at 402-441-8053 for more information.