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Memo from Dr. Kathleen Camelo
This is an update, as of December 4, 2014, on campus preparedness regarding the Ebola outbreak and some guidance heading into class breaks and the holidays.
While less front-and-center in the national news, the Ebola virus continues to spread in areas of West Africa with nearly 7,000 deaths reported, according to the World Health Organization. International efforts to help combat the outbreak are advancing.
On campus, the Student Health and Counseling Center has a plan in place to address a situation in which we would be notified of a potential case. It involves steps to follow with any person presenting with symptoms, our process in notifying Clinton County Health Department officials, and more.
Our staff is also training with its personal protective equipment (PPEs), with practice including putting on and taking off the equipment. Additionally, the campus Emergency Management Advisory Committee has met to coordinate communications and needs across departments.
In terms of how these plans and guidelines affect you, here are some points to know:
In addition to the above list, please let the Student Health and Counseling Center know if you have cared for anyone diagnosed with Ebola in or out of the country.
Symptoms of the Ebola virus include fever, severe body ache, vomiting, severe headaches, diarrhea, unexplained bleeding or bruising, and abdominal pain. The virus can be spread by direct contact with the skin or by touching the bodily fluids of an infected person, as well as exposure to contaminated objects.
The Ebola virus cannot be transmitted by air, water, or food.
In addition to our own staff as resources, the New York State Department of Health's public information is staffed 24/7 to answer questions about Ebola. The line is not equipped to deal with questions from individuals requiring health care attention, which should be handled by their medical provider. The number is 800-861-2280. The department's website is www.health.ny.gov.
Other online resources include:
- Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.edu/ebola.
- World Health Organization at www.who.int/ebola.
What is Ebola?
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus, though 8-10 days is most common.
How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.
Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?
No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness. It is not a water-borne illness.
Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.
Are there any cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the U.S.?
No. Two U.S. aid workers contracted the virus in Liberia and are being cared for at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
What is being done to prevent ill passengers in West Africa from getting on a plane?
CDC is assisting with active screening and education efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. In addition, airports in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are screening all outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms, including fever, and passengers are required to respond to a healthcare questionnaire. CDC is also surging support in the region by deploying 50 additional workers to help build capacity on the ground.
What is CDC doing in the U.S.?
On the remote possibility that an ill passenger enters the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease. These include notification to CDC of ill passengers on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, isolation. CDC has also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.
What about ill Americans with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. for treatment? How is CDC protecting the American public?
CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States. These procedures cover the entire process -- from patients leaving their bedside in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases. CDC’s role is to ensure that travel and hospitalization is done to minimize risk of spread of infection and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.
What does the CDC’s Travel Alert Level 3 mean to U.S. travelers?
On July 31, the CDC elevated their warning to U.S. citizens encouraging them to defer unnecessary travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone over concerns that travelers may not have access to health care facilities and personnel should they need them in country.
Symptoms of Ebola HF typically include:
Some patients may experience:
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the Ebola virus, though 8-10 days is most common.
There are several ways in which the Ebola virus can be transmitted to others. These include:
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