Environmental Health & Safety
Supporting the campus community by proactively protecting people, property and the environment in a responsible and cost effective manner.

Public Health

Section 1

Public Health

General information and resources for current communicable disease topics.

Last updated - February 20, 2018


Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms of influenza include fever (often high), runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, headache, tiredness, and muscle aches. Children may sometimes also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people can have a severe illness with influenza. They may have pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration, and worsening of medical problems such as asthma, heart conditions, and diabetes. People with chronic medical conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and children under 2 years of age are more likely to be admitted to a hospital for influenza. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year in the United States due to flu and between about 3,000 to 49,000 people die.



Ebola spreads from person-to-person by direct contact with a patient&rsquo;s body fluids, like saliva, blood, vomit, urine, feces, and sweat. The virus gets into the body through broken skin or mucous membranes (spongy skin like the kind you find in your nose or mouth). Ebola can also be spread by infected objects, like needles, that have been tainted with body fluids. Ebola can also spread after death, when preparing the patient&rsquo;s body for burial. Ebola cannot spread through the air, in food, or water. It takes 8–10 days for most people to get symptoms, but it can range from 2–21 days. Patients can spread the virus while they have a fever or other symptoms. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread Ebola.</p>



Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. Measles spreads very easily by air and by direct contact with an infected person. Measles is contagious from approximately 4 days before the rash appears through 4 days after the rash appears. Measles is a rare disease in the United States and in regions of the world where vaccination coverage is high. Maintaining high vaccination rates is vital to preventing outbreaks of disease in our community.


MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is a bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. Some staph bacteria have developed resistance to certain antibiotics commonly used to treat staph infections, and are called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Staph, including MRSA, can cause minor infections such as pimples and boils, or it can cause more serious infections, such as abscesses, pneumonia, and bone or bloodstream infections. Many MRSA skin infections are initially misdiagnosed as spider bites. However, verified spider bites are extremely rare and the spiders that cause significant bites are uncommon in Southern California. Some people have MRSA on their body or in their nose but no symptoms of infection. This is called colonization.



Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the "stomach flu," although it is not caused by influenza viruses.



West Nile virus (WNV) is a virus that is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. It affects the central nervous system and can cause a potentially serious illness with varying symptoms. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to be bitten by an infected mosquito, and people older than 50 years of age are at increased risk for severe disease if bitten by an infected mosquito. In a very small number of cases, WNV was spread through blood transfusions, organ transplantations, from mother-to-baby (during pregnancy and through breastfeeding), and through work exposures (animal handling or laboratory). Animals can also be infected with WNV and certain birds in particular play an important part in the life cycle and spread of the virus although birds do not directly spread the infection to humans. There is no treatment except supportive care for WNV infection, although experimental therapies are currently being studied. Avoiding mosquito bites is the #1 way to prevent WNV infection.


Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (also known as yellow fever mosquitoes) and by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (also known as Asian tiger mosquitoes). These mosquitoes are not native to California. However, since 2011 they have been detected in several California counties. An Aedes mosquito can only transmit Zika virus after it bites a person who has this virus in their blood. Thus far in California, Zika virus infections have been documented only in a few people who were infected while travelling outside the United States. A person with Zika is not contagious. Zika is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus, or by breathing in the virus.





Public Health Management
Sheila Hedayati