The CDC Web Site: An Ultimate Resource for College Health

By Carol J. Mulvihill, BSN, RN,C., Director of Health Services, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and Editor of Connections Quarterly



I truly believe that one of the most important things we can provide for our patients is information...credible, accurate, authoritative health information. One web site that fits the bill and has had a great deal of practical application to my work in college health is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site at


Last year, I had a student who had a positive TB test and was to begin taking INH. Following his x-rays and visits to his physician and to the State Health Center, he still had questions and needed more information for his own understanding and to reassure his roommates and his parents that he was not contagious with TB.

While he was in my office, I listened to his questions. Then I turned to my computer and we looked at the CDC web site together, using it as a resource to find the answers to his questions. Finally, I printed out the pages of comprehensive information for him to read and share with his family and roommates. Many of his questions were answered. I remember the look of relief on his face at the conclusion of his visit. He was very appreciative of the information and the time spent (about 15 minutes) doing the information research with him.


On another occasion, when one of our faculty members developed shingles, I found shingles information on the CDC web site, read it myself first, then spoke with the faculty member by phone and discussed his questions and concerns. I referred to information on the CDC site, and also gave him the web site address for the shingles information so he could print it out for himself at home.


Another time the CDC web site can be very helpful is in the event of a communicable disease such as chickenpox on campus. Such an incident creates an acute need for accurate information to dispel unfounded fears and obtain answers to urgent questions, such as, "How long am I contagious?" and "How long will I have this rash?" I have found that students really appreciate a print out of the information after an information and counseling session. Then the person with the printed information becomes the "health expert" among his/her peers.


I have used the CDC web site for the past three years as a resource for information in preparation for our flu immunization program in October. First I read all the current info about influenza vaccine, so that I can be the well informed and dialogue intelligently about influenza vaccine and answer any questions that come up the hallway, in the cafeteria, or on the phone or email.

To advertise our flu shot clinic, I do publicity via email messages to faculty and staff and refer them to articles on the CDC web site which discuss who should get the flu vaccine and when they should receive it, the content of the vaccine for that particular season. I include excerpts from these articles in our email publicity for the program.

In addition, during the flu season, I check out the Flu Surveillance Summary which is posted beginning at the end of October and updated weekly to monitor the incidence of flu nationally and in our states and regions.


Volumes of specialized information such as Travel Health and the comprehensive Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Treatment Guidelines can be found on the CDC web site as well.


I have also utilized the CDC web site for staff development. In between patient visits, I have encouraged our part-time nurse Bonnie to explore the web site and read information to refresh and build her knowlege background on public health topics particularly pertinent to college health. It has become a frequently used Bookmark on our web browser.


When student visits slow down a bit (who knows when), I plan to take more time to browse the CDC web site, to read and print out useful health information for our health information file and our literature rack. Since the information is from the U.S. Public Health Service it can be printed and reproduced freely.


It's great to have the ultimate national public health resource -- the CDC web site -- available at the click of a Bookmark. It has provided me with helpful health information on numerous occasions, and as a result, the students, faculty, and staff of our campus community have benefited.


Return to Fall 1999 CQ Menu

Return to Connections Quarterly Main Menu

Valid HTML 4.0!