Extensive media attention has been given to the epidemic called Ebola Virus Disease, or EVD, which has caused significant numbers of deaths in West Africa. The first Ebola case in this epidemic surfaced in late 2013 in Guinea close to borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the epidemic continues.
The disease entered the United States recently when a traveler infected with Ebola arrived in Dallas from West Africa. The patient was admitted to the hospital on September 28 and died on October 8. Two nurses who cared for the deceased patient during the severe part of his illness have been diagnosed with Ebola. All others who were in contact with the patient who had been previously quarantined have been cleared.
We want our students, faculty, staff, parents and community partners to know that Stetson’s emergency management and holistic wellness teams are closely monitoring the recommendations by the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to health professionals, although many members of the general public in the United States have become anxious, the risk to most Americans who have not traveled to West Africa is almost non-existent. However, public health activities, such as surveillance, patient identification and contact tracing are critical parts of the response to control the spread of disease.
Again, according to health officials, Ebola patients are not contagious until they begin to show symptoms such as fever, headache, weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or hemorrhage. The number of viral particles in the patient’s body dramatically increases as the patient becomes progressively ill.
According to health officials who advise us, Ebola is much less contagious than measles or influenza. It has NOT been demonstrated to be an airborne virus; it is transmitted through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
The overwhelming majority of people who have been infected with Ebola are those who have directly cared for a person who is actively sick with the disease or have handled the body of someone who has died from this illness. For this reason, health care providers who care for Ebola patients are at the greatest risk, along with the family members and close friends of a patient, because they have had direct contact with the patient’s bodily fluids that contain virus particles.
Therefore, let me add this statement, as a reminder: One of the best defenses for many diseases, especially with the flu season now upon us, is frequent hand washing.
I will convey updates as information pertinent to the Stetson community becomes available. I have listed several websites that have additional information for your review and education.
Extensive information can be found at the following websites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What You Need to Know about Ebola http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/
- The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
- Florida Department of Health: Information on Ebola Virus Disease http://newsroom.doh.state.fl.us/2014/10/14/information-on-ebola-virus-disease/
- National Institutes of Health http://www.nih.gov/
- American Nursing Association: Ebola Preparedness and Response http://www.nursingworld.org/
- American Osteopathic Association: What Physicians Need to Know About Ebola http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/Pages/10-10-14-ebola-what-you-should-know.aspx
- American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/public-health/ebola-resource-center.page