Community Health Updates
August 20, 2014
Monitoring the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
At Lewis & Clark, the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty is our highest priority. Wellness staff members have been monitoring the Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) outbreak in West Africa. Although the risk of disease is remote, the following information may be helpful in preventing such an occurrence. This information was compiled with the help from our partners at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Multnomah County Communicable Disease Services, and the State of Oregon.
Five Ebola facts:
- Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population.
- A person infected with Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.
- The virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the body fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, and other secretions) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects like needles that have been contaminated with the virus, or infected animals.
- As of August 19, no confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in the United States, other than the two U.S. health workers evacuated from Liberia.
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by food or water.
The symptoms of EHF may include fever greater than 101.5 F, chills, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage.
Three risk factors for becoming infected:
- Contact with blood or other body fluids of a patient known to have or suspected to have EHF in the three weeks prior to onset of symptoms. Incubation period is 2-21 days.
- Residence in or travel to an area where EHF transmission is active.
- Direct handling of bats, rodents, or primates from disease endemic areas.
Testing of patients with suspected EHF should be guided by symptoms consistent with the disease and the risk level of exposure. Please see: http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00364.asp for the CDC recommendations.
Recommendations for persons returning from travel:
Persons returning from an affected area but have not had direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic infected persons or animals, or objects that have been contaminated with body fluids, should monitor their health for 10 days. Those with a potential exposure should monitor their health for 21 days post exposure. Regardless, any traveler who becomes ill while traveling, even if only a fever, should consult a healthcare provider immediately and tell him or her about their recent travel and potential contacts.
Call either your provider, the Lewis and Clark Student Health Service (503-768-7165) or the Lewis and Clark office of Health Promotion and Wellness (503-768-7112) about your symptoms prior to going to the office or emergency room so arrangements can be made, if necessary, to prevent transmission to others in the health-care setting. For after hours concerns on campus, contact Campus Safety at 503-768-7777.
Two tips for prevention:
- As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing. Cleaning your hands often, using soap and water (or waterless alcohol-based hand rubs when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled with blood or body fluids), removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission. When wearing gloves, wash the gloves with soap and water before removing them, and then wash your hands.
- To minimize the possibility of infection, observe barrier techniques when in close contact with a person or an animal suspected of having Ebola virus infection. These precautions include wearing protective gowns, gloves, and masks, in addition to eye protection (e.g., eye glasses) or a face shield. Sterilization and proper disposal of needles and equipment,