MERS: Traveling to and from the Arabian Peninsula

Health officials around the world are paying more attention to increased cases of a new and serious respiratory virus known as MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. So far, all reported cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MERS poses a very low threat to the general public in the US, but it has been reported in cases related to travel to and from the Middle East. Travelers should pay close attention to their health and be aware of symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

There is no vaccine to prevent MERS, nor any antiviral treatment. Individuals with MERS can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
Coming from the Arabian Peninsula?
UW-Madison students, faculty/staff and visitors should contact a health care provider right away if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula.*

UW-Madison students with questions or concerns can call UHS at 608-265-5600.

Faculty/staff and visitors should contact their private health care provider.

*Countries considered in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring include: Bahrain; Iraq; Iran; Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; the United Arab Emirates (UAE); and Yemen.

Traveling to the Arabian Peninsula?

The CDC currently doesn’t recommend that anyone change their travel plans because of MERS. Most instances of person-to-person spread have occurred in health care workers and other close contacts (such as family members and caregivers) of people sick with MERS. If you are concerned about MERS, you should discuss your travel plans with your health care provider.

The risk to travelers is low, but you should take these steps to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with sick people

Also see: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on MERS

Ebola: Traveling from West Africa

With the recent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, many questions have come up regarding the risk of infection for travelers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a Level 3 Travel Warning advising against nonessential travel to any of the above countries. In addition, the CDC is continuing its screening and education efforts on the ground to prevent sick passengers from traveling from the affected countries.

If you’re traveling from West Africa
The CDC asks those returning from affected areas to be aware of any change in their health. Those who have not had direct contact with infected body fluids, animals, or contaminated objects, should monitor their health for a minimum of 10 days and look for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure with 8-10 days being the most common. Anyone who suspects they were exposed should monitor their health for 21 days post exposure and continue to monitor for the following symptoms.

If you recently traveled from the affected areas and find that you’ve developed any of the above symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately—even if it’s just a fever.

UW faculty and staff should contact their private health care provider while students can either contact UHS at 608-265-5600 or their private health care provider. Tell your provider about your recent travel and potential exposure before you go to the doctor’s office or emergency room to prevent potential transmission to others.

For more information, please visit the CDC for the latest updates>>

Need health insurance? Not sure? Read more about SHIP

SHIP logo

Who needs health insurance?

EVERYONE! Unfortunately, unexpected accidents and illnesses do occur and students without comprehensive insurance are more likely to drop out of school for financial or health-related reasons.

What about University Health Services?

All enrolled students are eligible for the medical and counseling care available at University Health Services, but UHS is not a substitute for health insurance. UHS is not open evenings and weekends and does not provide emergency care, hospitalization, or specialty care for complex problems.

I already have health insurance. How can I tell if it is good enough?

Even if you already have health insurance, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Employer plans typically limit coverage to emergency room care while you are out of the plan area, and you may have to take time off school to return to your hometown for treatment.
  • Even in their home area, some plans have increasingly narrow provider networks. As a result it can be difficult for enrollees to access key services such as mental health.
  • Many plans require enrollees to pay a large portion of their medical costs. High deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance can make enrollees reluctant, or unable to seek medical attention when they need it.

Five reasons to choose the UW-Madison Student Health Insurance Plan

  1. SHIP is designed specifically for UW–Madison students. Meeting the needs of our students is our motivation—not profit.
  2. UHS provides primary and preventive care on campus, keeping costs as low as possible.
  3. SHIP travels with you. SHIP members are protected by a nationwide network of hospitals, clinics, and specialized medical services.
  4. SHIP has a low member out-of-pocket max of $2,000 ($400 in-network deductible and 20% coinsurance combined).
  5. Value. SHIP offers “Gold +” level coverage at a “Bronze” price.

Other SHIP benefits include:

  • Preventive care, including 100% coverage for:
    • Meningococcal vaccine
    • HPV vaccine
    • Travel immunizations
    • Contraceptive benefit
    • Annual eye exam
  • Prescription drug benefit (including specialty medications)
  • Available coverage for spouse, domestic partner, and children
  • Worldwide assistance
  • On-campus customer service team
  • And much more!

Enrollment and Rates

Click here to view the 2014-15 domestic student plan benefits and premium rates »

Fall coverage is effective from August 15, 2014 and enrollments must be received by September 14, 2014.

Registered students can enroll online, in the SHIP office, by telephone, or by mail.

Parents can enroll their registered student in the SHIP office, by telephone, or by mail.

Click here for additional information and to enroll online »

How to Stay Stress-Free the Week before Finals


So, Badgers. It’s the last week of classes. As you’re handing in projects and wrapping up lectures, it starts to sink in: finals are next week. Before things get hectic, take this last week to plan some relaxation strategies that will keep you at your best next week.

1. Make an Oasis. After spending hours crouching over your laptop and text books, you’ll need a comfortable place to retreat to. Make your own oasis this week. A place waiting for you to cuddle up into when you need a break. Your oasis can be anywhere or anything. It can be a bench outside, a favorite blanket, a walk in a park or a Group X class at the SERF. Anything that lifts your mood. Also, try out a few deep breathing techniques this week so you have a relaxation game plan ready for when things get tough next week.

2. Feeling Good. To do your best, you’ve got to feel your best. During finals week, studying is a higher priority than heading to the gym or eating three balanced meals, but if you spend the week before finals making healthy choices you can boost your energy and increase your focus for next week, and it may be easier to follow through and keep eating healthy. Plus, if you spend the week before being healthy, you will have a stock of healthy snacks to bring to the library with you.

3. Be Kind to Yourself. You’ll be going through a lot next week. Take some “me” time before finals and do something special. Cross a few activities from your bucket list before the semester is over. Celebrate your semester accomplishments and treat yourself to a UHS massage or do something that you’ve been wanting to do. You’ve earned it!

Other tips for finals: (Find tips for before, during and after finals here>>)

• Do small amounts of work this week so you are not swamped during finals.
• Get things in order for summer this week so you can focus on school next week.
• Plan three top tasks to accomplish each day.
• Reflect on your study habits. Utilize what works best for you!
• Libraries will be packed. Brainstorm a few unique study spots.

You’ve got a big week ahead of you, but you can do it! With a little planning, you will go into finals week feeling fresh and ready to take on anything. Good luck, Badgers!