Center for Disease Control Advises Increased Caution
Summary: Following the continuing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a news advisory advising colleges in the US to identify students and staff who have been to any affected countries in the past 21 days and reporting any symptoms.
Last week, nearly 400 more individuals died in West Africa as the worst-ever epidemic of Ebola continues to spread throughout the continent. The death toll has risen above 1,900 and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are worrying that the window of opportunity for controlling the disease is beginning to narrow.
An advisory issued by the C.D.C. on August 19th encourages clinicians at student health centers to “be alert for signs and symptoms of Ebola in patients who have a recent travel history to countries where the outbreak is occurring.”
The C.D.C. also laid out general guidelines for precautionary measures when caring for someone possibly infected with Ebola. The methods include separating the patient into a private room with a personal restroom and wearing the proper personal protective equipment during care. According to the CDC advisory, this includes “masks, gloves, gowns, facemask and eye protection.”
While the advisory notes that U.S. colleges should exercise caution, they should not “isolate or quarantine” any student or faculty based solely on their travel history. Instead, the C.D.C. encourages colleges to promote awareness of the illness by having students who have traveled to any affected country self-monitor themselves for symptoms.
The New York Times reports that “some large universities said they had not adopted any anti-Ebola measures” prior to the C.D.C. advisory. In the same article, they note that some colleges say identifying students who have recently traveled to the affected countries is difficult and they may have to rely on students voluntarily stepping forward.
As UMBC is among the U.S. colleges that the C.D.C. advises to take precautionary measures, some students have had thoughts on the matter and whether the school should take further steps to protect its students.
“I think UMBC officially warning students about Ebola would only spread panic over an issue that isn’t that prevalent in the States yet,” said sophomore environmental science major, Parker Damm.
Other students feel that ignoring the C.D.C.’s advisory would result in more negative consequences than rousing the student body into a panic.
“On one hand, I do think asking students to be wary of Ebola symptoms would cause an amount of panic on campus,” said senior theatre major Serafina Donahue. “However, ignoring the issue may cause some students to worry that the university is ignoring the issue at hand.”
At this time, the university’s Health Services website has linked to the C.D.C.’s upped travel advisory to West Africa but has yet to make any comment or notification to the campus concerning Ebola awareness.