Georgetown University Policy and Recommendations Regarding Emerging Infectious Diseases

Updated: April 29, 2009

Development of Georgetown's Policy and Recommendations

Georgetown officials have been actively monitoring information and recommendations related to various emerging infectious diseases (such as SARS, avian influenza and swine flu) from district, national, and international public health agencies, as well as Georgetown's peer institutions. Georgetown University's goals are clear: to safeguard the well being of all members of the Georgetown community, including students, faculty, staff, guests, and other visitors and to ensure that accurate information and advice are readily available. 

A working group is meeting regularly to make recommendations and to address programmatic needs and practical considerations. Participants include representatives from Student Affairs, Student Health Center, Health Education Services, Employee Health, International Programs, Housing, Registrar, General Counsel, Law Center Administration, Medical Center Administration, and a variety of programs that work with members of our community who travel internationally. 

The following policies and recommendations may change as an emerging infectious disease outbreak evolves. Georgetown will continue to develop and coordinate strategies, monitor daily bulletins from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and assure compliance with the CDC's guidelines regarding travel, quarantine, and clinical care. 

Current Travel Advisories and Alerts

The CDC will, from time to time, issue TRAVEL HEALTH WARNINGS (formerly travel advisories) recommending that nonessential travel be postponed until further notice. 

The CDC will also issue TRAVEL HEALTH PRECAUTIONS (formerly travel alerts) not advising against travel, but informing travelers of a health concern and instructing them to take specific precautions to reduce risk during the stay, and what to do before and after travel.  

Since international situations and travel recommendations continue to evolve, anyone considering international travel should consult the CDC and WHO Web sites (addresses below) regarding current travel warnings. 

University Travel to Areas with TRAVEL HEALTH WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS

Consistent with CDC travel warning advice, Georgetown University will issue a temporary moratorium on all University-sponsored and University-related travel for students, faculty, and staff to areas affected by a CDC TRAVEL HEALTH WARNING.  This means that University funds will not be used to support trips to these areas, nor will the University facilitate or otherwise endorse travel to these areas.  If an individual believes there is a compelling University-related reason for travel to those areas, he/she must contact the appropriate campus officer (see list below) regarding an exception to the policy.

 

 

  • Main Campus Faculty/Staff/Students:  Office of the Provost, 687-6400
  • Medical Center Faculty/Staff/Students:  Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, 687-4600
  • Law Center Faculty/Staff/Students:  Executive Vice President, Law Center Affairs, 662-9031
  • University Services Staff:  Senior Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, 687-3730

The moratorium will remain in effect as long as the CDC maintains the current TRAVEL HEALTH WARNING.  If new TRAVEL HEALTH WARNINGS are issued by the CDC, the moratorium will extend to those areas as well. 

If a new TRAVEL HEALTH PRECAUTION is issued by the CDC, the individual traveler also must contact the appropriate campus officer (as listed above) before making any travel arrangements or following through with previously scheduled arrangements for University-sponsored or University-related travel. 

Should travel be approved to an area under a CDC TRAVEL HEALTH PRECAUTION, student travelers to those areas should consult the CDC travel page (http://www.cdc.gov/travel/) and must consult with the Student Health Center to learn about appropriate precautions to safeguard health. Similarly, faculty and staff must consult with the Medical Director, Occupational Health Program, GUMC.  These recommendations may include avoidance of settings where the infectious disease of concern is most likely to be transmitted.  The CDC recommends that health be closely monitored while in affected areas and for at least 10 days following departure from those areas. It is essential that travelers who develop fever or other symptoms of the illness of concern seek prompt medical attention. Medical evaluation and isolation requirements may be required and may be disruptive and inconvenient. 

 

 

Non-University/Personal Travel to areas with TRAVEL HEALTH WARNINGS and TRAVEL HEALTH PRECAUTIONS

Georgetown University strongly urges all members of the community to avoid nonessential personal travel to these areas. If there are compelling personal reasons for such travel, the university urges students to consult the Student Health Center at (202) 687-4500 prior to departure. Faculty and Staff should contact the Medical Director, Occupational Health Program, GUMC at (202) 687-0398 prior to departure.  Travel to and from these areas may be very complicated. Airline schedules and airports themselves may experience unanticipated disruptions. 

Airlines are taking many precautions to reduce the risk of exposure for passengers, but air travel continues to involve risk. Travelers may be subject to health screenings before boarding planes to leave for the U.S. Departing travelers with any related symptoms may be detained and isolated. Travelers arriving in the U.S. are advised to seek health care immediately if they develop a fever or other symptoms of the illness of concern within 10 days of travel to these areas. Medical providers are instructed to isolate and monitor such individuals. It is important that potential travelers understand these public health protocols when considering travel to these areas (even to areas that are under the more limited CDC TRAVEL HEALTH PRECAUTION), since minor illnesses developing during or subsequent to travel may involve disruptive and inconvenient isolation.

In order to protect the health of the Georgetown community, students returning from these areas must call the Student Health Center, and faculty and staff returning from these areas must call the Medical Director,  Occupational Health Program, GUMC, immediately upon their return to campus and before resuming work or study or entering Georgetown facilities. 

 

 

People Traveling to Georgetown from TRAVEL HEALTH WARNING and PRECAUTION Areas for Other Programs

Many people considering travel to Georgetown from these areas may question whether these outbreaks should influence their travel plans. Georgetown policies follow the recommendations of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Individuals contemplating travel to Georgetown to attend reunions, academic programs, conferences, or for other purposes are asked to read carefully the information below. 

The university urges that individuals seriously consider their plans to travel from areas of the world subject to CDC TRAVEL HEALTH WARNINGS. Individuals should not travel if they are ill, have recently been ill, or have been exposed to someone suspected being ill with an infectious disease. 

Prevention measures in these areas and in the U.S. may be appropriately stringent and may make travel difficult. Airline schedules and airports themselves may experience unanticipated disruptions. Travelers may be subject to health screenings before boarding planes to leave for the U.S. Departing travelers with any symptoms may be detained and isolated for a period of time. Airlines are taking many precautions to reduce the risk of exposure for passengers, but airplane travel continues to involve risk. After arrival in the U.S., travelers may be given information explaining the symptoms of the illness of concern.  Although isolation may be required only for those who have symptoms, minor illnesses developing subsequent to travel may be indistinguishable from the emerging infection of concern. If possible, travelers are encouraged to spend the typical incubation period in a less exposed setting (such as a private home with friends or family) before entering the campus community.