Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa
As always, Gettysburg monitors world health issues that could pose a threat to campus health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Ebola virus disease (EVD), which has been much in the news recently, poses little risk to the U.S. general population at this time. However, U.S. healthcare workers are advised to be alert for signs and symptoms of EVD in patients with compatible illness who have a recent (within 21 days) travel history to countries where the outbreak is occurring.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared on the western coast of Africa (specifically the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea) and Nigeria. This viral infection causes acute symptoms of high fever, muscle pain and weakness, headache, sore throat followed by vomiting and diarrhea, and sometimes internal and external bleeding. Some patients have had kidney and liver failure and about 50% of people infected with the virus have died. Ebola has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact with infected body fluids including saliva, secretions, and blood. Currently there is no vaccine and treatment involves supportive care.
The likelihood of contracting any viral hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, is considered extremely low unless there has been direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic infected persons or animals, or objects that have been contaminated with body fluids. All travelers can take these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of illness:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rub your hands vigorously.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Illnesses spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
The College health care professionals, Center for Global Education program directors, International Student advisor, Provost Office and other will be monitoring the situation and plan for any contingencies if the situation changes.
If you have recently travelled or are planning to travel to or from West Africa, please notify Health Services at 717-337-6970. For additional information about EVD, please review the WHO fact sheet. The college will continue to monitor events closely and follow guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO).