Pittsburg State University has been monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa for several months. In accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this fall semester the university conducted risk assessments on persons who have traveled from the affected West African countries. None of the persons had any known exposures to Ebola and the incubation period for Ebola has expired without any evidence of infection. The university has restricted Study Abroad programs to any of the affected West African countries. Currently, there are no students enrolled at Pittsburg State University from an Ebola-affected country. The university will continue to follow the guidance of local, state and federal health authorities as the Ebola situation evolves to ensure the campus community’s health and safety.
University campus Ebola preparedness and response protocols have been developed and Ebola screening procedures have been implemented. The university will continue to monitor the Ebola situation in Kansas very closely, and when appropriate, will provide the campus community with important updates using e-mail. The university’s Ebola response plan will be revised as necessary as new information and guidance is provided by the KDHE and CDC.
Ebola is a disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. These viruses have caused sporadic outbreaks of Ebola in Africa since 1976. The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history with approximately 9,000 cases identified and almost 4,500 deaths thus far. The Ebola outbreak has involved the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC.
Persons infected with Ebola virus may develop one or more of the following symptoms:
Symptoms may appear from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Persons infected with Ebola virus are not contagious until they develop signs or symptoms of illness. Ebola is spread through direct contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as saliva, urine, stool or vomit) or contaminated objects like needles and syringes. At this time, it is not believed that the Ebola virus spreads through the air or by water. The virus enters the body through breaks in the skin and mucous membranes such as the mouth, nose and eyes.
Unnecessary travel to areas where active transmission of the Ebola virus is occurring should be avoided. Anyone with travel to affected areas within the last 21 days should strictly adhere to instructions for self-monitoring and limit travel. Self-monitoring includes taking one’s temperature at least twice each day. Persons with a known exposure to someone with Ebola should not travel using any form of commercial carrier (airplane, ship, train, bus). Should signs or symptoms of illness develop during the self-monitoring period, the person should immediately isolate at home and contact their local health department for instructions. If a potentially infected person deems it necessary to seek immediate care at a local hospital emergency department, it is important to first call the emergency department to ensure that all possible precautions are taken to limit exposure to others and appropriate measures taken for safe evaluation and care. If EMS is called, it is also important that they be notified that the person may be infected with Ebola virus.
Lab tests are available to diagnose a potential case of Ebola. The tests are not commonly available and will be conducted by the KDHE and CDC only if a person meets the case definition for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD): 1) signs and symptoms of Ebola and 2) travel within 21 days of the start of symptoms to an affected West African country or exposure to someone with Ebola.
No FDA-approved vaccines or medications are available for Ebola. Infected patients are treated with supportive care which may include IV fluids, electrolytes, antibiotics for secondary infections, oxygen, medications to maintain adequate blood pressure and kidney dialysis. In West Africa, the mortality for Ebola cases is approximately 70%.
The CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Alert for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where significant transmission of Ebola virus is occurring. All non-essential travel to these countries should be avoided. A Level 2 Travel Alert has been issued for the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to a small number of Ebola cases that have been reported there. Travelers should take additional precautions to avoid contact with persons who appear to be ill. A Level 1 Travel Alert remains in effect for Nigeria where transmission of Ebola virus appears to have been halted. Travelers should take the usual hygiene precautions and monitor local news for reports of new cases of Ebola.
Advice for Colleges, Universities, and Students about Ebola in West Africa
For questions or concerns about Ebola, you may contact the Bryant Student Health Center at 620-235-4452. For more information about Ebola, you can check the following websites:
Other Ebola Information Links:
CDC Ebola Information | Kansas Department of Health | World Health Organization Ebola Information | CDC Travel Notices | Advice for Colleges and Universities