Ohio State put a reporting process into effect Friday for members of the university community who might have come in contact with the Ebola virus.
The process — which is consistent with that established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — was announced to the university Friday via an emailed letter from Dr. Steven Gabbe, senior vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the OSU Wexner Medical Center, and Dr. Andrew Thomas, senior associate vice president for Health Sciences and the chief medical officer at the Wexner Medical Center.
Students, faculty and staff who have traveled in the past 21 days to any west African country heavily affected by the virus — including Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone — are told to report their travels to the university.
Those who have had direct contact with a person with a confirmed case of the Ebola virus within the past 21 days should also report it to the university.
The letter defined direct contact as giving medical care in any capacity to a person with a confirmed case of Ebola and having direct contact with any bodily fluids of a person with a confirmed case.
“The university, in conjunction with medical experts, will develop management plans for any individual meeting one of the above criteria based on the specific level of exposure/risk and will be consistent with recommendations from local public health officials,” the letter said.
All information will remain confidential. The reporting process will stay in effect until the end of the nationwide EVD outbreak, the letter said.
If students, faculty or staff feel they meet the criteria, they are to contact the Critical Event Officer at the Wexner Medical Center as part of the reporting process.
So far, 4,922 people have died from the virus worldwide as of Monday, according to the CDC’s website. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ohio.
The virus causes symptoms like fever, severe headache and unexplained hemorrhage, or bleeding, according to the CDC. Ebola can only be spread from contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person or animal who is infected with or has died from Ebola.
Ebola was confirmed in the U.S. on Sept. 30 when a man named Thomas Duncan traveled from Liberia to Dallas. Duncan died on Oct. 8.
One of his nurses, Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with the virus Oct. 14 after visiting family in the Akron area before she flew from Cleveland back to Texas. Another healthcare worker, Nina Pham, tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 11 in Dallas.
After it was reported that Vinson spent time in Ohio, OSU officials sent out an email Oct. 17 as a precaution and to increase awareness around campus. The email listed ways to prevent the spread of the disease and emphasized how Ebola is spread.
“We can assure you that you are at no risk of contracting Ebola if you have not had direct contact with a person with active symptoms of the disease,” it said.