The Ebola virus in the news: What does it mean to us at Loyola?
Loyola’s Office of Emergency Management and Student Health Services are continuing to monitor the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa. The outbreak DOES NOT pose a significant risk to the U.S. at this time. While there have recently been a few secondary cases confirmed within the U.S. (as of October 15, a second nurse has contracted the disease after treating the victim in Dallas), the risk of this disease becoming an epidemic or significant outbreak locally are minimal at this time.
At the present, Loyola does not have any sponsored programs of study in the outbreak region nor does it have any students, faculty or staff that have been identified as having traveled to the affected areas of West Africa. However, please be mindful of your travel and inform the university of any travel or exposure to West Africa following the below protocols.
The current Ebola outbreak and advisories are centered on five countries in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Nigeria, although there is the potential for further spread to neighboring African countries.
Is the U.S. at risk of an outbreak or epidemic of Ebola?
No. According to experts experienced in treating Ebola Virus Disease in Africa as well as researching it in the U.S., limiting secondary spread in a healthcare setting can be accomplished with rather basic public health protocols. It is vital, however, that these protocols be followed. The CDC is currently tracking contacts, called “contact tracing,” of these confirmed cases (and will continue to do so) to ensure any potential infection gets proper treatment as soon as possible, thus limiting the spread further. CDC and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are beginning enhanced entry screening to detect possible cases of Ebola in travelers who have traveled to the U.S. from or through Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Enhanced entry screening at 5 U.S. airports (New York’s JFK International, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta airports) will evaluate over 94% of travelers from the affected countries in West Africa. CDC is also assisting with exit screening and communication efforts in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. Sources: CDC; Dr. Joseph McCormick
What is Ebola?
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though eight to 10 days is the most common.
How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola is NOT a respiratory disease like the flu: Ebola is NOT transmitted through the air. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or though exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
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.?
Yes, but only in healthcare settings. There have been secondary cases in healthcare settings directly related to the care of a victim. These infections, at this time, have been suggested to be the result of either improper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or lack of protocols (or clarity of protocols) at the hospital. Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low. We know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the U.S. had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States. Source: CDC
What you need to know regarding travel to the impacted area and what Loyola is doing
Please be mindful of your travel and inform the university of any travel or exposure to West Africa. While there is very low risk of infection while traveling, the university is providing protocols for travelers to the outbreak area and nearby regions out of an abundance of caution.
The University has issued the following recommendations and guidance for Loyola students, faculty and staff who are planning travel to, or are returning from, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and other Western Africa countries:
1) All Loyola travelers are strongly advised to defer nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The CDC urges all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone because of an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola and the adverse impacts to health care and other infrastructure within these countries. Due to recent cases in Nigeria, Loyola advises against nonessential travel there as well.
2) For travel to other West Africa countries, it is strongly recommended that all Loyola students, faculty and staff defer any planned travel until the current emergency in the region is resolved. Please consider informing the Office of Emergency Management of any future travel plans for this area. This will facilitate your access to emergency help and follow up, if needed, while on university-related international trav
3) Prior to returning to work or campus/classes at Loyola after travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, please inform the university as soon as possible. It is critical we communicate this in order to have awareness of potential illness.
4) Any travelers returning from West Africa, including visitors participating in Loyola programs, should:
For a complete list of Ebola symptoms, please visit the CDC website.
5) If you are ILL with any of the above symptoms and have traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Nigeria within the last 21 days, DO NOT REPORT TO WORK, SCHOOL OR ATTEND FUNCTIONS.
Detailed advice from the CDC for colleges, universities and students regarding the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa is available online.