The current Ebola outbreak is centered in three countries in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the American public. There have been cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, and these recent cases have led the CDC to institute screening protocols for patients arriving from the three affected African countries at five major US airports.
To ensure the health of the Drexel University community, a task force has been created to evaluate and monitor the situation, and ensure the University is following all recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Find out more:
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a virus that causes viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms appear 2-21 days after exposure to the Ebola virus, 8-10 days is the most common.
How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola is not transmitted in the same way as the flu. Ebola cases are caused by contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the body fluids of an ill person infected with the virus. It is not transmitted through the air, water or, in general, by food.
Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
No. Individuals who have no symptoms are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, direct contact with an individual experiencing symptoms is required.
What should I do to protect my health if I come in contact with people on campus who have recently returned from a country where the Ebola outbreaks are happening?
Ebola poses little risk to the US general population and is not contagious until symptoms appear. It is spread through direct contact with body fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, semen, and other secretions) of an infected person, or with objects like needles that have been contaminated with body secretions. This includes through intimate contact, such as sex, since Ebola can still be found in semen for 7 weeks after a person has recovered.
It is always good to avoid contact with anyone who is sick and to wash your hands regularly. Use soap and water if available, or use hand sanitizer. Doing so can help prevent you from getting sick from many contagious illnesses.
What is being done to prevent the spread outside of West Africa?
The Centers for Disease Control (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 affected countries are screening all outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms, including fever and passengers are required to respond to a healthcare questionnaire.
What is the CDC doing in the US?
The CDC has provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. They have issued a Health Alert Notice educating health care workers on how to screen for at risk patients and what precautions to take if Ebola is suspected. They have also instituted screening protocols for patients arriving from the three affected African countries at the five major US airports that receive passengers from the affected countries.
The CDC has also issued an Advisory for Colleges, Universities and Students about Ebola in West Africa. They are not recommending colleges and universities isolate or quarantine students, faculty or staff based on travel history alone.
In addition, the CDC is assisting local public health authorities in the monitoring of case contacts and containment of spread of the infection in the US.
What is Drexel doing to prevent Ebola in the campus community?
Drexel does not currently have any academic programs located in the affected countries of West Africa. Drexel has also suspended program development for the three impacted West Africa countries and will not approve proposed travel by faculty and students to these countries until further notice. You should note that the CDC is advising against nonessential travel to the three countries listed above. Should you travel there for personal reasons, please let Student Health or the Drexel Medicine practice know and be screened upon your return.
All students, faculty and staff who have been in the affected countries within the past 21 days are being screened by Drexel Medicine and the Drexel Student Health Center (see below). The Student Health Center will also be asking all sick students about travel outside the US in the past 21 days. If an ill student with recent travel to West Africa is identified, his/her risk of Ebola will be assessed before he/she comes to the Health Center and appropriate referrals will be made when necessary.
If you are a student and have returned from one of the affected countries in the past 21 days, please review the CDC Advisory for Students, Faculty, and Staff Who Have Recently Traveled to Countries Where the Ebola Outbreaks are Happening. Please also call the Student Health Center at 215.220.4700 as soon as possible to schedule a screening/risk assessment; when you call, be sure to inform the receptionist if you are experiencing any symptoms.
If you are faculty or staff, and have returned from one of the affected countries in the past 21 days, please review the same advisory and schedule an appointment with Drexel Medicine at University City by calling 215.220.4720.