Two Miami University Students Being Monitored For Possible Coronavirus

Jan 28, 2020
Originally published on January 29, 2020 4:50 pm

Updated 3:15 p.m.

The Butler County Health Department says two Miami University students are being monitored for the coronavirus. The students had recently traveled to China.

Miami says in a statement that one student presented with "very mild" symptoms. Given his recent travel, the student met the criteria for being tested, along with his traveling companion.

Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer says the students came back to Oxford in the last few days and weren't feeling well, so they went to health services. Miami isolated the students immediately and called Butler County. Bailer says the students have not had much contact with others on campus and the agency is in touch with those the students did see.

Samples were sent Monday afternoon to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing. The Ohio Department of Health says results are not expected until the end of the week. Director Dr. Amy Acton says these are the only cases currently being investigated in Ohio.

"Our staff, officials at Miami University and the Ohio Department of Health are taking every precaution to keep the community safe," says Jennifer Bailer, health commissioner.

Bailer says neither student is "severely ill" and they are being kept in isolation at their off-campus residence. She says both were feeling "pretty well" on Tuesday. They're being treated with "supportive measures," meaning fever medication, etc. Acton says additional medications and treatments would be used should either test positive.

The risk to other Miami University students and the community is low, Butler County says. Officials with the state and local health departments sought to highlight this point.

"We are much more likely to see a disease of a contagion of fear than the actual disease," Acton points out. "As a matter of fact, you're much more likely to get the flu or another cold right now."

She stresses the best course of action is to maintain good respiratory health measures such as proper hand-washing and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing.

"Most of the people who have been tested for coronavirus have not had it," adds Dr. Stephen Blatt with TriHealth.

Miami does not anticipate canceling any activities or classes at this time, it says.

"We are assisting and supporting these Miami students who are awaiting test results," the university says. "We continue to work closely with local and state healthcare professionals and the Butler County Health District and Ohio Department of Health."

Miami says it has around 70 students from the Wuhan or affected areas of China. The Global Initiatives program is in contact with students from those areas to see if they went home over the recent school break and checking on how they're feeling.

If you've been in China recently and are experiencing symptoms, the county health agency says you should contact your doctor before going to the office. Any Miami students experiencing symptoms should "contact Student Health Services at 513-529-3000 before seeking care."

Symptoms can include: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC says at this time that symptoms "may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure."

Miami has set up a call center for general questions or concerns at 513-529-9000. Men's and women's basketball games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been postponed, Miami says in a release. The university tells WVXU the games were postponed by the opposing teams, not Miami.

"Miami Health Services and Student Life professionals acted quickly with appropriate protocol, and we will continue to follow the best practices currently known," the university concludes. "We have proactive partners in local and state healthcare. We will post updated information on myMiami as it becomes available. Please check announcements there regularly."

How Tri-State Depts. Are Responding

Health departments across the Tri-State are keeping an eye on the Wuhan coronavirus.

A spokesman for Hamilton County Public Health says the agency is "following the situation closely" and is in contact with the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC. He says guidance and protocols are in place should any cases appear.

Ohio last week declared the virus an immediately reportable disease, meaning doctors and basically anyone in health care with knowledge of a potential coronavirus case must report it immediately to the health district where the person lives or is being evaluated. All testing must currently be done at the CDC, the agency says.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department is also keeping an eye on the virus and is referring people with questions to the CDC.

Tips For Staying Healthy

As with all communicable illnesses, the Ohio Health Dept. recommends:

  • Practicing proper hand-washing and hand hygiene
  • Using appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Staying home from work or school if you feel sick
  • Avoiding exposure to people who may be sick
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