The ongoing outbreaks of Ebola in Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have shown us that public health issues are global issues. Even though the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has stated that “Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the US public”, it is important that we be aware of the disease and the steps we can take to protect ourselves and our community. This fact sheet is based on recommendations made by the CDC, World Health Organization and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
What is Ebola and what are its symptoms?
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic disease that is most often fatal. Symptoms include fever (greater than or equal to 100.4 F), headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms can occur anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8-10 days is most common.
How is Ebola transmitted?
It can only be transmitted through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids (including saliva, sweat, and semen and breast milk) of an infected person who has symptoms of the disease. Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air or through water. People most at risk for contracting Ebola are families and friends in close contact with ill Ebola patients, or with people who have died of Ebola.
Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected, but does not 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.
What should I do if I plan on traveling from one of the above listed countries and am experiencing the symptoms of Ebola?
You should stay in your country until cleared by your country’s public health authorities.
What should I do if I develop the above symptoms within 21 days of traveling from one of the above named countries or contact with an Ebola patient?
Please call Student Health Services (508) 999-8982 and ask to speak to a Nurse Practitioner. Your history and symptoms will be discussed and, if indicated, you will be referred to a local hospital for further evaluation. Student Health Services will continue to monitor your condition and any potential risks to the community.
If I have plans to travel to the affected countries, should my travel be cancelled?
Per the CDC’s level 3 travel warning for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, students, faculty and staff should avoid non-essential travel to these countries. The CDC currently has a level 2 travel warning for Nigeria, which means, you should practice enhanced hygienic precautions. If you have been in contact with an ill person from one of these countries within the last 21 days, please contact your healthcare facility or primary care provider before returning to campus. You should also contact Student Health Services so that we can monitor your care and any potential threat to the UMass Dartmouth community.
What is Student Health Services doing with respect to Ebola?
Students coming from any of the above named countries have already been contacted advising them not to travel if they are symptomatic and how to reach Student Health Services if they become ill within 21 days of leaving their country. These students will be contacted once they have arrived at UMass Dartmouth to review their physical condition. We are encouraging our faculty, staff and students not to travel to the Ebola affected countries until CDC has lowered the threat level. Our health care providers have been educated regarding Ebola and appropriate precautions and we continue to monitor this situation.