Information about IUP's SARS Response Team

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IUP Response Team Concludes Work Addressing Issues Related to SARS

In response to concerns about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Indiana University of Pennsylvania's SARS Response Team has completed its charge of developing recommendations regarding prevention and intervention procedures for the IUP campus in 2003. This group, composed of faculty members and administrators, reviewed the existing policies and updated them to reflect appropriate responses to a SARS-like illness.

“Fortunately, given the state of SARS worldwide, and with the World Health Organization's lifting of alerts and advisories regarding SARS, the team believes that the threat of SARS to the university community is not a serious one at this time, so implementation of these recommendations is not necessary,” said Dr. Rhonda Luckey, SARS Response Team chair and vice president for Student Affairs. “The team has done excellent work, and the guidelines and recommendations members have developed do offer a general guide for campuswide readiness in case of SARS or a SARS-like epidemics in the future,” she said.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were followed closely by the IUP team as it designed systems to be responsive to the SARS epidemic. The IUP team also worked closely with the local community to coordinate policies and planning. Basic information about SARS was shared with parents and students during orientation events scheduled for Thursday, May 29, and continuing throughout the summer months. “SARS did not pose a serious concern for our immediate IUP community, but like many other colleges and universities in this country, IUP felt challenged to identify procedures to respond to public health concerns and fears about SARS,” said Dr. Luckey.

Frequently Asked Questions about IUP's Response to and Prevention of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on Campus

Especially for the IUP community:

How has the university worked to reduce the risk of SARS?

Representatives from a cross-section of the IUP community, the SARS Response Team, developed an environmental management plan during the summer months in response to the threat of SARS. In all of its work, the team took guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see the CDC website).

The IUP student health service, Pechan Health Center, followed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was prepared to respond in the event SARS cases are diagnosed by working cooperatively with the local hospital (Indiana Regional Medical Center) and the local Department of Health.

What is the university's plan in the event that SARS cases are diagnosed?

Any diagnosed cases of SARS will be managed by the IUP student health center through the recommendations of the Infection Control personnel at the local hospital, Indiana Regional Medical Center, and the local Department of Health. If there is a reason for the university community to be concerned about a case of SARS, the local Department of Health and the university would work collaborative to communicate all necessary information to students, faculty, and staff.

What should students do if they have a roommate who has traveled internationally, even though the travel advisories have been lifted?

Exposure to someone who is from or has traveled to the designated areas does not necessarily put a person at risk for SARS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), persons exposed to SARS are not considered infectious until the onset of symptoms. Also, only certain designated cities and countries are included in the CDC's case definition. If your roommate has traveled to one of the designated areas but is not ill, there is no need to be concerned. If your friend or neighbor is from one of these designated areas but has not been to one of these areas in the past ten days, he/she is not at risk of SARS. SARS is not caused by being from a particular area of the world. SARS is a virus; contracting SARS is not related to country of origin. In order to contract SARS, you must come into contact with the virus that causes the disease.

I am a student with plans to travel, for either personal or academic purposes, to areas that were affected. What should I do?

Travel decisions are a personal choice. Refer to the U.S. Department of State website for the most up-to-date travel warnings. In addition, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for updated travel advisories and information.

Were the unions involved with the development of the SARS Team recommendations?

The SARS Team consists of fifteen faculty, staff, and management employees. All union representatives were informed of the SARS Team in June 2003 and were informed of the approved recommendations of the president in August 2003.

General Questions about SARS

What should someone who has visited or is from a SARS-affected area do if he/she becomes ill? Are there any special guidelines for seeking medical attention?

Yes. If someone who recently traveled to one of the affected areas has symptoms of SARS (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) he/she should contact a health-care professional immediately. If staying at a hotel, he or she should stay in the room and call for emergency medical help by dialing 911 (follow the directions printed on or near the hotel telephone about calling 911).

If the person is staying in a private home or room, he or she should should stay in the home or room and call for emergency medical help by dialing 911. When the emergency operator answers the telephone, it is important that the following information is shared:

  • Provide the travel history about the person who is sick
  • State the symptoms of the person who is sick
  • Inform the emergency operator if the person who is sick came into contact with any individual(s) who were diagnosed with SARS or who had symptoms of SARS (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) while in one of the countries classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization as SARS-affected areas (see listing of countries at the CDC website).

Follow the directions of the person who answers the telephone.

How can I get current information related to SARS?

The most up-to-date information is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Use these links for up-to-date information about CDC travel advisories and travel alerts.

Contact Information:

University Health Service, (724) 357-6475
Department of Health, (724) 357-2995
Indiana Regional Medical Center, (724) 357-7000
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization