Student Health Center aims to keep campus community healthy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UNC Charlotte’s Student Health Center is participating in two surveillance programs designed to gather health-related data in efforts to keep the campus community  well.

The College Health Surveillance Network (CHSN), administered by the University of Virginia, is the first national database specific to epidemiologic trends and health services utilization for college students.  Public health authorities use this database to monitor spread of pandemic flu, establish surveillance systems for communicable disease outbreaks, calculate incidence of vaccine preventable diseases and establish uptake rates of important vaccines. The CHSN allows UNC Charlotte to compare health system utilization with 21 other student health centers, nationwide.

Every month, the Student Health Center shares unique patient identification and medical information to the CHSN secure site.  During flu season, data regarding incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) and pertussis also is shared.  The CHSN compiles a weekly synopsis report that is shared with the participating schools and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For more than 10 years, the Student Health Center has participated in the North Carolina’s Influenza Sentinel Surveillance Program, administered by the CDC through state laboratories, nationwide.  UNC Charlotte is one of 17 college and university student health programs participating along with 28 N.C. health department offices, 28 private practitioners, four hospitals and 119 emergency departments.

Participating sites share from one to five suspected flu specimens weekly for a viral culture to determine the presence of flu and the exact flu strain.  Data is reported to the CDC and used for their

analysis of national flu outbreaks and to assist the CDC in ensuring that the annual flu vaccine is covering the most prevalent strains of the flu virus.

The N.C. Sentinel Surveillance Program indicated that more than 80 percent of ILI specimens submitted for testing during the week ending Nov. 24 were positive for the flu virus.  The most prevalent strain this year appears to be Influenza A/H3.  The current flu vaccine does include this strain and officials are confident the current vaccine will be effective.

The N.C. Sentinel Surveillance Program is reporting an increase in reported cases each week since Nov. 24 and three flu-related deaths in N.C. have occurred. Current reports of flu are higher than normal for this time of year.

The Student Health Center would like to remind the campus community that the flu should be taken seriously and encourages all students, faculty and staff to have a flu vaccine as soon as possible.