Ebola Update

  • IUP’s Center for Health and Well-Being continues to monitor the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As new information becomes available, updates will be posted on the IUP Health Service website

    International Travel

    If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., the Center for Health and Well-Being encourages you to check Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel alerts and information before traveling.  

    CDC continues to issue Level 3 travel warnings for Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia recommending that individuals avoid all non-essential travel to these areas. IUP has temporarily suspended approval for university-related travel to these countries.

    If you do travel to one of these countries in West Africa and you develop a fever or other Ebola-related symptoms, or are believed to be at risk for developing Ebola, you may not be able to depart from that foreign country until it can be determined you are not infected. Any travelers from outbreak areas will also be diverted to one of five U.S. airports monitoring all arrivals from these countries where you will again be screened. If you have any signs or symptoms, you may be detained. When you return to Pennsylvania, you will undergo monitoring by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 21 days. Depending on your level of potential exposure, you may also be required to isolate yourself for up to 21 days. For more information, contact the Health Service at 724-357-2550.

    What Is the Ebola Virus, and What Are the Symptoms of This Infection?

    Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a rare and deadly disease. It is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals, including raw meat. Ebola virus disease is not spread through the air, water, or food used in the United States.

    Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some people. Since this virus requires contact with blood or bodily fluid, including sweat, transmission is rare. The disease is transmitted only when symptoms are present.

    Am I at Risk of Contracting the Ebola Virus?

    You are not at risk of contracting this infection:

    • if you have not been to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia where the outbreak is occurring; or
    • if you are not in close contact with others who are sick from Ebola within the last 21 days.

    How Has the University Been Monitoring This Outbreak?

    Since late summer, university officials and multiple community health care providers, including Indiana Regional Medical Center and Indiana County Emergency Management, have been working together in case a person in Indiana County were to become infected with the Ebola virus.

    Currently there are no students from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the countries impacted by the Ebola outbreak, attending IUP.

    It is unlikely that a member of the university community would be exposed to the Ebola virus.

    Nevertheless, IUP personnel have worked closely with other members of the Indiana health care community to be prepared if this would occur.

    What Should I Do if I Have Traveled to These Countries or Have Been in Close Contact With Someone Sick With Ebola?

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health is monitoring travelers who have returned to Pennsylvania from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

    If you were exposed to a person sick with Ebola more than 21 days ago, you are no longer considered at risk for Ebola. If fewer than 21 days has passed, contact the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH. You will be instructed how to monitor your health and the health of anyone traveling with you for 21 days after being in the outbreak area. IUP students and employees also should contact IUP’s Health Service at 724-357-2550.

    What Are the Levels of Exposure Risk?

    The CDC has released examples of levels of risk for exposure to the Ebola virus. You can find this in their fact sheet, Monitoring Symptoms and Controlling Movement to Stop Spread of Ebola.

    Examples of No Risk

    • Had contact with a person with Ebola before the person was showing symptoms.
    • Traveled to a country with Ebola outbreak more than 21 days ago.
    • Been in a country where there is no widespread Ebola transmission (e.g., United States), and having no other exposures to Ebola.

    Examples of Low (but not Zero) Risk

    Being in the same room for a brief period of time (without direct contact) with a person who has symptoms of Ebola.

    Examples of Some Risk

    Close contact with a person with symptoms of Ebola, such as in a household or hospital. Close contact means being within three feet of a person with Ebola for a long time without wearing personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, gowns, etc.).

    Examples of High Risk

    Direct contact with the infected body fluids of a person with Ebola.

    How Has the IUP Health Service Responded to the Possibility of a Person Seeking Care Who May Have Been Exposed to the Ebola Virus?

    The IUP Health Service has stocked personal protective equipment (PPE) and practiced using it. IUP Health Service medical personnel will screen anyone seeking care at the Health Service who has fever or other symptoms as a result of having traveled in the outbreak countries or other risks. IUP Health Service health care providers monitor the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website for updated information and coordinate with the local health care community, including the Indiana Regional Medical Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

    Does the University Have an Official Policy on University-Sponsored Travel to These Countries Where Ebola Cases Have Occurred?

    It is the university’s practice to require members of the IUP community who travel internationally to obtain the approval of their division’s vice president and to coordinate travel through the IUP Travel Office. Until further notice, divisional vice presidents will temporarily suspend approval for university-related travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

    Until the CDC lifts the travel warning to these countries, educational activities, including teaching, research, or service, will be postponed. Educational activities include, for example, faculty, staff, and students who are involved in study abroad courses, internships, field study, conferences, research endeavors (funded as a result of university affiliations), and service activities related to academic pursuits.

    Is Personal Travel to Countries Where Ebola Cases Have Occurred Permitted?

    CDC has issued travel warnings for Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to avoid all non-essential travel to these areas. Traveling to these countries is very risky and can be difficult. These countries are screening for potential illness as you enter and leave these areas. You may find that if you develop a fever or other Ebola-related symptoms, or are believed to be at-risk for developing Ebola, you may not be able to travel out of the country until it can be determined you are not infected. Travelers from outbreak areas will also be diverted to one of five U.S. airports monitoring all arrivals from these countries; you will be screened when you arrive at one of these airports. If you have any symptoms, you may be detained.

    When you return to the United States you will undergo monitoring by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 21 days. Depending on your level of potential exposure to the Ebola virus, you also may be required to isolate yourself for up to 21 days.

    Is There Anything I Can Do to Help With This Outbreak?

    Do not travel to these countries.

    Learn about Ebola and help others to understand the disease. This reduces unneeded fear and possible discrimination toward people who are from these areas.

    CNN offered the names of organizations that are providing support to these countries. You can read about their work at the CNN website: Ebola Outbreak: Ways to help.

    How Can I Get Current Information Related to Ebola?

    To learn more about Ebola, CDC guidance, prevention, and intervention related to contracting the Ebola virus, refer to the following: