Communicable Disease Prevention
Sick? Stay home.
How to self-monitor for illness:
- Look for symptoms including fever, cough, and fatigue.
- If you develop symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider about getting tested for both the flu and COVID-19.
- If you are not feeling well, stay home.
The GVSU attendance policy supports students staying home. If you have questions or concerns about attendance policy enforcement, please contact Edward Jones II, Director of Student Health Services at 616-331-2809. You can also contact Student Ombuds or follow the Academic Grievances Procedures.
A communicable disease is one that is caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi and are easily spread from one person to another through a variety of ways that include: contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an insect.
Some of the most common communicable diseases among college students are listed below. Click the accordions for more information and local resources.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent diseases caused by a variety of viruses - it works for the flu, a cold, e-coli, norovirus, rotavirus or even coronavirus.
Want other ways to help prevent communicable disease?
- Avoid going to public places when you are sick.
- Cleaning frequently touched objects (keyboards, desks, door-knobs) when sick.
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid sharing personal items that can’t be disinfected, like toothbrushes and razors, or sharing towels between washes.
- Handle and prepare food safely. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces often when preparing any food, especially raw meat. Always wash fruits and vegetables.
- Get yourself vaccinated. Vaccination can prevent you from getting certain communicable diseases (Flu, meningitis, Covid-19).
- Avoid touching wild animals as they can spread infectious diseases to you and your pets. Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, or feces of an infected animal could put you at risk.
- Indulging safer sex practices (using condoms, dental dams) to reduce the risk of getting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).
Soap and Water
Washing your hands with soap and water are the #1 way to prevent the spread of germs.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,
- Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
- Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
- Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.
Why Should You Wash Your Hands?
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage