COLLEGE UPDATE ON EBOLA
From the Office of Health & Safety
What is Ebola
Ebola is a rare disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. There are no known cases in Louisiana. Early symptoms include fever greater than 101.5, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. According to the CDC symptoms appear within two to 21 days of exposure to the virus.
Persons at risk and virus transmission
Those at risk are anyone who has traveled to West Africa in the past three weeks and believes they were in contact with body fluids of someone ill with Ebola. Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of sick patients. Body fluids include blood, sweat, urine, feces, saliva and possibly nasal secretions if close to the infected person. The virus cannot be transmitted through the air, through water or through food. It can only be transmitted through fluids of an infected person or from exposure to contaminated objects – such as needles.
How to monitor for symptoms and when to seek health care
Any person with recent international travel to affected areas should monitor their health status for three weeks after arrival from West Africa. Taking your temperature once or twice daily might be helpful. If you have traveled to West Africa and develop sudden fever, chills, muscle aches, severe diarrhea, vomiting, rash or other symptoms consistent with Ebola, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Before visiting a health-care provider, alert the clinic or emergency room in advance about your possible exposure to Ebola virus so that arrangements can be made to prevent spreading it to others. When traveling to a health-care provider, limit contact with other people and avoid all other travel.
Ways to prevent illness
Ebola virus is transmitted by close contact of the body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola. Treat any body fluid as though it is infectious. Blood or body fluids can spread Ebola if they get into your eyes, nose or mouth. Therefore, hand washing is the most important infection-control measure, along with avoiding hand contact to one’s face. Wear disposable impermeable gloves when cleaning visibly contaminated surfaces. Maintain good healthy practices like getting plenty of sleep, maintaining good nutrition, drinking plenty of water and increasing your physical activity to help your immune system best resist infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to monitor and respond to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and according to the CDC, Ebola currently poses no significant threat in the United States.
The federal government has not issued travel bans to these areas. If anyone does arrive in the US from the affected areas they will receive information about how they should monitor their health during the next few weeks.
Additionally, OLOL College has no international students from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. There are no College-sponsored trips where students or faculty are coming to campus from the affected West African countries.
Ebola preparedness in Louisiana
First and foremost, there are no known cases of Ebola in Louisiana. However, if there ever was a case in our state, Louisiana is prepared. For the last several weeks, the Department of Health & Hospitals has been working to ready Louisiana's public health and medical infrastructure, including procedures for emergency medical workers, hospital physicians and regional emergency response coordinators.
Our Lady of the Lake’s infection prevention protocols were specifically updated regarding the Ebola virus in early August. Their teams and physicians are up to date on the most current surveillance and national alerts from the CDC and are using the CDC checklist to ensure appropriate strategies are in place for isolating Ebola patients should the need arise.
Protecting Healthcare Workers
Refer to http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/index.html includes information on the Sequence for Putting On and Removing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Tools for Protecting Healthcare Personnel
Facts and resources
More information is available from the CDC and World Health Organization