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Students from Texas have mixed reactions about going home with threat of Ebola

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After at least three cases of the Ebola virus were diagnosed in Texas recently, some Ohio State students from the Lone Star state have mixed reactions about going back.

“I kinda didn’t want to go back (home) for Thanksgiving break, so we’re going to go to Virginia, but I think I’m still going to go back for Christmas,” said Chris Estridge, a second-year in chemical engineering. Estridge is from Rockwall, a suburb east of Dallas.

Others like Tory Berryman, a first-year in chemistry who is also from Rockwall, have said they are not too concerned about the virus.

While she said she will be flying home for Halloween and Christmas, she doesn’t plan on taking any extra precautions during her flights or time at home.

Berryman said, however, she feels more at risk as a college student. She said being a student is just “a little more worrisome” because college students tend to partake in riskier activities — such as sharing drinks – that could spread the virus.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, 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.

Andrew Braun, a fourth-year in microbiology and international studies who is also from Rockwall, said relative to the U.S., the Ebola outbreak has been blown way out of proportion.

“The hysteria around Ebola is that it is a hysteria problem,” he said. “Only one person in America has died because of Ebola, and 600,000 people die every year from cardiovascular disease and CVD is currently the No. 1 killer of women globally.”

Braun said while he won’t be going home for Thanksgiving, he wouldn’t be concerned about flying and doesn’t feel any more at risk. Braun said he would be more aware if someone appears to be sick and coughing next to him, though.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation about the disease in general, in terms of how it’s spread and how easy it is communicated from person to person,” Braun said. “It’s definitely not as infectious as something like the flu and so I think that’s something that people have in the back of their minds at this point.”

According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a foundation focused primarily on health news, 66 percent of people don’t think Ebola can be transmitted through the air and 55 percent of people don’t think it can be transmitted by shaking hands with someone who has been exposed to Ebola but isn’t showing symptoms. Additionally, 64 percent of people said they have confidence in their local hospitals.

The virus causes symptoms like fever, severe headache and unexplained hemorrhage, or bleeding, according to the CDC. 4,555 people have died from the virus worldwide as of Monday evening, according to the CDC’s website.

Ebola was confirmed in the U.S. on Sept. 30 when a man named Thomas Duncan traveled from Liberia to Dallas. Duncan later died on Oct. 8.

One of his nurses, Amber Joy 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 Friday 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.

Berryman, Estridge and Braun said they don’t plan on taking any more precautions than they normally would when they travel back to the Dallas area for the upcoming breaks.

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