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Medical director: Ebola protocol in place
University prepares for possible Ebola outbreak
Although there have only been two confirmed cases of Ebola and one death in the United States, there is a protocol set in case a Quinnipiac student were to become infected, according to University Medical Director Phillip Brewer.
When a student enters an exam room at Student Health Services, they are always questioned about their travel history. If a student were to have risk factors similar to Ebola, he or she would be placed in “immediate isolation,” which would likely be in a separate exam room, according to Brewer. An ambulance would then be called, and the student would be transported to a nearby hospital as soon as possible.
After the student is transported, the Health Center would be shut down until a professional decontamination team would arrive and clean the area. The team would also have to decontaminate the areas where the student previously was, in addition to tracking down people the student had contact with.
With one building shut down, the auxiliary building on York Hill would likely become the main health center.
On Wednesday, the School of Nursing, School of Health Sciences and School of Medicine will collaborate to present an Ebola preparedness presentation. School of Nursing students are required to attend, with all attendees receiving instruction in working with the disease.
Brewer said if students have a fever, it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms, which can include fever, diarrhea and vomiting, among others. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 21 days following exposure, according to CDC.gov. Ebola is usually transmitted through blood or body fluids, such as urine, saliva and sweat.
Yet, prior to experiencing symptoms, the disease “does not appear to be contagious,” according to Brewer.
Brewer suggested that the recommendation for caring for patients with Ebola has not been adequately followed around the United States. Following the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 8, two nurses became infected.
“The recommendation is that everybody who presents with a fever has to be asked where they’ve been in the last 21 days,” Brewer said. “If they have any risk factors that have to do with Ebola, they have to be immediately isolated and taken somewhere for observation. That’s still not happening.”
Last Thursday, a Yale University doctoral student was admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital for Ebola-like symptoms. Later in the day, the student preliminarily tested negative for the virus.
“This is not gonna be over in a week, or a month,” Brewer said. “Because the number of cases, the question is, will it, like a wildfire, jump to any other countries? We don’t know yet.”
As of Oct. 15, there have been 8,997 total cases of Ebola, leading to more than 4,000 deaths, according to CDC.gov. In the United States, there have been three cases, with one death. Outside of the U.S., thousands of cases have been confirmed in the original outbreak countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Brewer also believes that temporarily halting flights to and from West Africa to set up screening equipment could be beneficial in containing the disease. With that said, he believes the chances Ebola becomes an outbreak in the United States are small.
“I agree with the idea let’s not panic,” Brewer said. “There’s clearly a risk. I couldn’t put a number on it, except it’s very low. We’re gonna have some more cases, there’s no doubt about that. But that doesn’t mean we’re gonna have an epidemic.”
Senior Kylie Stanger said she isn’t concerned about a possible U.S. epidemic.
“In the countries that currently have Ebola, their infrastructure and their economy is wrecked,” Stanger said. “They’re countries that can’t afford anything. In the U.S., we can afford incredible modern medicine. I really don’t think there will ever be a problem.”
Junior Melissa Griffith reiterated similar thoughts, noting that the disease can only be transmitted through contact.
“It’s not spread through air,” she said. “I don’t think it will be like what it is in Africa, here.”
News editor. Amanda Hoskins had an exclusive interview with Doctor Brewer. Click here to see the full story.