Ebola update guidance for schools

The World Health Organization declared an international emergency related to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa in September. Responses to this outbreak include:
1) neutralizing the outbreak within the countries of origin,
2) preventing transmission outside the country by screening travelers at departure from West Africa and re-entry to their home country, and 3) alerting health providers and others to increase their surveillance of those at risk.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is committed to support all three objectives by educating travelers and those institutions such as schools that host travelers as well as providers about managing those at risk.

ADH is aware that some schools and institutions of higher education in the state may have students and faculty who have traveled from the five countries with current or recent Ebola outbreak: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The most critical step to prevent transmission of Ebola is to identify those persons that have traveled from the affected countries mentioned above in the last 21 days. Ebola virus is a highly infectious agent. It has been associated with serious illness and death.

Ebola is spread from person to person through direct contact with bodily fluids. Those who have only casual contact being in the same room without physical contact with patients with Ebola are considered to be at low risk but should have medical evaluation and consultation. Those who have traveled from an affected country within the past 21 days but do not have symptoms and have no known contact with someone infected with Ebola are not at risk of infecting others.

However, they should continue to monitor themselves for fever or symptoms until 21 days have passed since departure from the affected country. Quarantine is not indicated for these individuals. Schools are asked to report any individuals who have traveled from West Africa in the last 21 days to the Arkansas Department of Health regardless of symptoms. Any hospital or healthcare facility with isolation capabilities can safely provide supportive care to an Ebola patient. ADH has provided instructions to all health care facilities in Arkansas.

Before arriving at a physician’s office or emergency facility a person who suspects they have Ebola should call ahead and alert the medical staff. Any suspected case of Ebola should be reported to ADH immediately at 501-537-8969 Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 1-800-554-5738 and CDC at 1‐770-488‐7100.

ADH is working with the CDC and will continue to monitor closely the Ebola outbreak. The CDC Ebola website is the most expeditious way to keep up with developments at www.cdc.gov.

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