Posts Tagged: disease control

Communicable Diseases

February 05, 2013

The holiday gift you don’t want to receive…

Alison Epperson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Health Ed.
Murray State University

‘Tis the season for germs and no one wants to have their holiday fun ruined feeling under the weather. Having to stay in due to snow is one thing; staying home because you and your germs are not a welcome party guest is another.

This season, share the love, not the germs by keeping in mind that the best prevention is protection. On a personal level, some simple steps make a huge difference:

  • Hand washing
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Staying home when you have a fever
  • Not sharing personal items such as towels, razors and uniforms jerseys
  • Covering an open wound
  • Constantly disinfecting high contact items (i.e. weight/bench equipment, doorknobs, computers, phones, bathrooms, etc.)

Typically during this time of year, we tend to be more concerned about colds/flu. However, since the initial hype in 2007 regarding MRSA, many of us may have let it slide off our radar. Consequently, it is important to remember that Flu and MRSA germs have very similar methods of transmission and can live outside the body for extended periods of time, and passed in droplet form by way of a sneeze or cough.
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Minimizing MRSA: A Three-Pronged Approach

July 13, 2011

Sarah E. Hardin, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Facilities
Campus Recreation
DePaul University

Methicillen-resistant staphylococcus aureus or the MRSA Virus, as it is more commonly known, was first addressed by John Lentz in the April 2007 issue of this publication. At that time, there were many recreational sports professionals who were unaware of the viciousness of this disease. Now, two years later, the term ‘MRSA’ strikes fear into the hearts of recreation facility managers across the country. Although we may not have had first-hand experience in dealing with the infection, we have heard enough stories to make us want to avoid it at all costs. We all wonder if we are doing enough to minimize the risks of an outbreak in our facilities.

While many institutions have already adopted a number of practices to prevent an outbreak, others may still be at the planning stages. This article is intended to assist those at both ends of this spectrum. The first section of the article provides basic information about the virus itself, as well as explaining why those in the recreational sports field should be concerned about its prevention. The second section addresses the actual practices used by recreational sport administrators to avoid or prevent the spread of the MRSA infection.

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Pandemic Planning — An H1N1 Update

July 04, 2011

Joe Ozorio, CBCP
Assistant Vice-President
Marsh Risk Consulting

Just 6 short months ago there was discussion about the possibility of an influenza pandemic occurring and that it was a matter of when, not if. As we all know, we are now steeped in the midst of global pandemic, and the only thing that’s different from what was last written, is the type of influenza — not avian as originally feared, but swine flu, or as it’s now properly known: Influenza Type A H1N1.

On June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization’s Dr. Margaret Chan, stating that “…the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.”, officially raised the pandemic alert level from Phase 5 to Phase 6 (see previous article for the WHO phases and their descriptions). The world was at the start of a full influenza pandemic. Since then we’ve seen the number of cases rise dramatically all over the globe. As of the last available official update — July 6, 2009 — WHO reported over 94,000 confirmed cumulative cases of H1N1 and 429 deaths worldwide. However since then, they’ve stopped reporting the cumulative numbers. Public Health Agency of Canada has also stopped reporting cumulative cases and now reports only deaths.

Why? It was pointless for several reasons:
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H1N1 (Swine) Flu

July 04, 2011

Are you Ready?

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, Ian McGregor & Associates Inc.

When the threat of an H5N1 (Avian Flu) pandemic looked imminent in the last few years, many universities scrambled to put a plan in place. While that threat did not materialise (for now), universities are now faced with a world-wide outbreak of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus — a different disease requiring a different planning model. A key change for campus emergency planners this time around is a recognized need for a more flexible model (versus the more rigid plans originally developed for the Avian Flu strain).

According to Chris Tapfer, Emergency Management Coordinator for Washington State University, the big issues for Campus Recreation programs will be flexibility and hygiene. According to Tapfer, campus closures will be very unlikely and although there will potentially be a lot of sick students, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to have individuals stay home and out of circulation for 3-5 days, and until at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided. This means Campus Recreation programs may still be able to function but will need to ramp up sanitization programs and protective measures.

Since increased diligence in hygiene and sanitization is also the key to preventing the spread of other contagious diseases such as MRSA (see article in this Newsletter), it is therefore recommended that Campus Recreation Directors review their cleaning and sanitization protocols to ensure that spread of highly contagious diseases like Swine Flu and MRSA is minimized.

For more information on these threats, and advice on how to deal with them:

  1. Consult with your campus Risk Management Department and/or Emergency Response Coordinator.
  2. Review the H1N1 Update in this Newseletter
  3. Access information on H1N1 provided by the CDC at
  4. Review the MRSA article in this Newsletter.

Toxic Artificial Turf — fact or fiction?

April 12, 2011

Jim Fitzsimmons
Associate Director
Campus Recreation and Wellness
University of Nevada, Reno

In the last decade the number of new generation synthetic turf installations has increased dramatically. Most professionals in our industry have heard all the benefits of investing in this product. It requires no mowing, no watering, no fertilizers or herbicides. There is no need to reseed or rest the field. It allows for increased field use which can equate to more revenue generation and increased programming. Cost of initial installation is somewhat high but the lifespan of the field is between 10 and 15 years.

In a 2005 analysis for the City of San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Turf Manager Lemar Morrison states “the latest generation of synthetic turf is safer to play on than natural turf. It is flat, even, soft and it does not have gopher holes, bumps, or muddy patches. New synthetic turf does not have the disadvantages of older “Astro-Turf,” which was abrasive and prone to causing injuries to toes, ankles and knees.” In arid states where the cost and availability of water is a major concern artificial turf is a sensible option.

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The Scoop on Poop

April 11, 2011

(or Is the Water You Swim In, Safe?)

Carrie Tupper
Associate Director, Aquatics
University of Maryland

As the summer season sneaks upon us, many of us will be gearing up to head to the pool to enjoy the clean, clear blue water. Do you really know if the water you are swimming in is clean?

Water can be deceiving. It may look clean when it really is contaminated with germs. These germs may cause Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) which are illnesses caused by breathing, ingesting, or having come in contact with contaminated water. These RWI’s are not only found in swimming pools, they are also found in other bodies of water such as spas, spray parks, lakes and ponds.

Recreational Water Illnesses can present themselves in many different ways, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, and eye, respiratory and wound infections. The most prevalent illness is diarrhea. Germs such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. Coli, Shigella and the Norovirus cause diarrheal illness.

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