November 12, 2014
Dear Vassar students:
A cluster of pneumonia cases has been reported to our Health Services. The Dutchess County Department of Health is working with us to identify the cause and to put preventive steps into action to reduce the transmission to others. One common contagious lower respiratory bacterial infection, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, can cause fever and sore throat. It progresses to bronchitis or pneumonia in 5 to 10% of those infected. The course of illness is gradual. A combination of cough, headache, fatigue and body aches are common symptoms. M. pneumoniae is spread by being close to persons who cough or sneeze and by hand-to-hand contact with infected persons. The incubation period is one to four weeks.
Health Services staff are working with the ill students to identify the cause of the pneumonias.
We also need your help. The importance of hand washing, especially before meals, after using the bathroom, and before common activities cannot be overstated. People should avoid sharing drinks, food, and they should cover their sneezes and coughs with tissue or the crook of their elbow, not their hands.
If you develop any of the described symptoms, particularly cough with fever, we advise you to promptly consult with the Health Service.
Thank you for your concern and attention regarding this issue. We will continue to keep you apprised of the situation.
If you have questions or concerns you are advised to consult with the Vassar Health Service or call the Dutchess County Department of Health, Communicable Disease Control Division, at (845) 486-3402.
Irena Balawajder, M.D.
Medical Director – Health Service