Searle, Residential Life warn students of Asian virus threat

Alexander Pegg

Northwestern has begun taking precautions to protect students from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which results from the unknown virus infiltrating Southeast Asia.

Virginia Koch, the assistant director for University Residential Life, e-mailed the resident assistant listserv Sunday expressing concern about students who traveled abroad during Spring Break who may have brought back the mysterious virus.

Students who traveled to Hong Kong; Guangdong Province, China; or Hanoi, Vietnam may have been exposed to the virus and should monitor their health, Koch wrote.

The syndrome’s main symptoms are high fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. If students experience these symptoms, they should go to health services immediately, Koch wrote. To help doctors make a diagnosis, students should inform the doctor about their presence in these areas or their contact with someone displaying symptoms.

Dr. Joanne Connolly, acting director for Searle Student Health Service, said the service has set up isolation procedures for those infected to contain the syndrome if it is reported at NU.

“The (World Health Organization) and the (Centers for Disease Control) have been notifying people who have traveled to these regions that they may have been exposed,” Connolly said. “Since we are aware of the disease and have policies in place, we are not overly concerned.”

According to the CDC Web site, 58 deaths and more than 1,600 cases have been reported as of Monday, including 59 cases in the United States.