West Africa Ebola outbreak

October 24, 2014 

Rider continues to work closely with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and local health officials to monitor the Ebola outbreak and mitigate any risk to our campus communities. While several cases have been identified in the U.S. this fall, continued focus remains on the countries that have been primarily involved in the outbreak since its inception in March: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Students, faculty and staff who return from travel to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone are asked to be in touch with the Student Health Center (students) at (609) 896-5060 or the Department of Human Resources (faculty and staff) at (609) 896-5140. Doing so will facilitate our institutional response should at-risk individuals develop symptoms while on campus. In the case of students who have traveled recently to these countries, the Student Health Center will discuss NJDOH recommendations to follow in the three weeks following their arrival as well as contact and other information should they develop symptoms. Faculty and staff are encouraged to have a similar discussion with their healthcare provider. 

We will continue to work closely with NJDOH and local health officials to monitor information related to the Ebola outbreak and will keep our campus communities updated as additional information becomes available. Further information from the NJDOH is posted below.

How is Ebola transmitted?

There are a limited number of ways in which Ebola is transmitted. People can only become infected via direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of a person infected with, and symptomatic from, Ebola virus disease (EVD); or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or other body fluids of a person infected with EVD.    EVD is NOT transmitted in the air or through the food or water supply.  Additionally, people who are infected with EVD are only contagious when they have symptoms.  

The incubation period, or the maximum amount of time between a person’s exposure to EVD and the onset of symptoms, is 21 days.  A person who was exposed to EVD or traveled to an EVD-affected area (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia) and does not develop symptoms of EVD within 3 weeks does not have EVD.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Patients with EVD develop a variety of symptoms.  Fever is nearly universally present in all infected individuals.  Common symptoms, none of which indicate a person definitely has EVD, may include:

  • Fever (at least 101.5)
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite   

Do students, faculty and staff who traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone have to be quarantined?

No.  There is no need for quarantine.  Students may reside in normal housing without any special precautions. 

What does the NJDOH recommend for students, faculty and staff who arrive on campus within 21 days of having traveled from an EVD-affected area and who currently have no EVD symptoms?

The NJDOH recommends that students, faculty and staff who have traveled from an EVD-affected area to monitor their health closely for 21 days from the date when they were last physically in an affected country.  Students will be provided a thermometer by the Student Health Center to check for fever. 

If you travelled to an EVD affected area and develop a fever of 101.5F or higher or experience any unexplained, persistent or severe symptoms listed above – what should you do?

Call Public Safety at (609) 896-5029 or 911 immediately.  Individuals SHOULD NOT to go to the Student Health Center or hospital emergency room without first calling so that they can communicate their potential risk of EVD.  

Should I avoid contact with people who have recently traveled to West Africa?

No, you do not need to avoid contact with someone who has recently traveled to a country where an outbreak is occurring. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids and is only spread when a person is showing symptoms. It is always a good idea to avoid contact with another person’s blood or body fluids.  If a person who recently traveled to West Africa has symptoms of Ebola, such as fever, they should contact their health care provider and tell them about their travel history. Their health care provider will evaluate their risk for Ebola as well as other more common infections in West Africa, such as malaria and typhoid fever.

Where can I find additional information about Ebola?

Additional information is available via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/symptoms.index.html and via the New Jersey Department of Health at http://nj.gov/health/cd/vhf/index.shtml.  

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