With the World Health Organization projecting numbers for those contracting Ebola to rise to the tens of thousands, U.S. colleges are considering screening students from West Africa for the virus.
The outbreak, which has resulted in more than 1,500 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leon, is said to be largest in history. There is no cure for the Ebola virus.
“I can see why there would be concern; there’s no vaccine for it,” said Fatima Nor, an 18-year-old freshman at the University at Buffalo, where about 25 students from Nigeria are enrolled for fall. But she said knowing that the virus is transmitted strictly through direct contact with bodily fluids of sick people, and not by sitting next to someone in class, should be enough to calm nerves.
“As long as everyone keeps their personal space, it should be OK,” said Nor, of Buffalo.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not issued specific recommendations to curb the spread of the almost always deadly virus, but colleges have taken matters into their own hands, drafting precautionary plans to protect their students.
The American College Health Association recommends its members update emergency plans, find out where patients have traveled and use isolation exam rooms when available. Several colleges are checking the temperatures of students arriving from affected countries and continuing to monitor for fever until any risk of contagion has passed.
“I don’t see this as a huge threat on college campuses,” said Dr. Susan Even, student health director at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a member of the ACHA, “but it makes sense when you’re communicating with students … to ask a question or two.”
At the University of Illinois, 30 Nigerian students will be subject for screening, which includes a temperature check and private Ebola discussions, said Dr. Robert Palinkas, the center’s director.
Similar screenings are also planned at the University at Buffalo, Mercer University in Georgia, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the University of Akron in Ohio. According to ABC, U.S. universities count an active 9,728 students from Nigeria, 204 from Liberia, 169 from Sierra Leone, and 95 students from Guinea.
And screening, well, we can see how this can be a bit problematic. Your thoughts?
SOURCE: ABC | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty