BY PABLO BOTEYO
Around noon on October 3, the Wellness Center sent out an email to faculty, staff and students concerning the recent Ebola hemorrhage fever virus. The email gave information about the virus, a list of symptoms, as well as recommendations as to what to do if someone feels they may have symptoms on the email.
The Wellness Center is following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to prepare a plan if a case of Ebola were to happen.
“A few years ago, we were concerned with the H1N1 virus, and a few years before then, we were concerned about whopping cough,” Director of the Wellness Center Joseph Loizzo said. “One of our obligations is to educate people about these highly communicable diseases. We do have a very mobile population on campus and that’s why we are saying to be careful.”
Ebola may be a very communicable disease, but only if a person comes in contact with fecal matter, blood of an infected person or needles that have touched an infected person. Though the ways of contracting it are specific, students should still act as they would if they didn’t want to catch the flu.
Cases of Ebola have spread mainly in Western Africa, with one case in Dallas and one in Spain. The case of Ebola in Spain may bring concerns to those who are travelling or are in Austria for the semester. However, the cases are contained by health organizations such as the CDC, and should not bring concern amongst people since the forms of contracting it are rare.
“We now have universal precautions that really educate us on how to take of ourselves on a daily basis, hand-washing, covering your mouth when you cough, take care of yourself,” said nurse practitioner Dianne Schmitt. “This is a really critical time of the year because we suffer from influenza. We do the same education with Ebola, and the CDC recommends those type of things, hand-washing, etc. If you have come in contact with someone with Ebola, hand-washing, again, the universal procedures are important.”
On top of the precautions that have been stated to the public about being safe, further precautions have been taken when it comes to handling people with flu-like symptoms who have traveled to countries that have been effected by Ebola. Students are not just encouraged to take care of themselves but to educate themselves about the virus.
“I do think I kind of am in a bubble and don’t know that much,” senior Luke Daigle said. “I think I should educate myself more about what Ebola actually is, and what to do if I feel I have it. But also, I don’t think we should panic over it, I mean the ways to catch it are unique, and not to mention the cases in Dallas and in Spain are being taken with good precaution and awareness.”
The Wellness Center recommends that if a person feels as though they have Ebola-like symptoms, they find medical attention quickly whether it be here, the walk-in clinic in Steubenville or an emergency room. The Wellness Center is prepared to handle any case if it were to happen, and are working with surrounding hospitals and the state of Ohio to prepare a plan of action for if a case appeared.
“I don’t think we have any need to worry,” second year student Cuyler Ledyard said. “I am going to Austria and the Ireland Mission trip next semester, and I am not worried. I am taking care of myself, drinking fluids, eating healthy, and much more just so that I don’t get the flu, and it seems that that’s all that’s really needed to avoid it – here or in Europe. The CDC and Franciscan have a handle on it, and there’s no reason to panic when it’s just so hard to actually get it. So, I am ready to go to Austria, and enjoy my time here without too much to worry about. Well, except for money for Austria. Other than that, no worries.”