As the world health care community has increased efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and given that cases have now occurred on U.S. soil, I am writing to provide an update to the campus community regarding steps to keep the campus safe.  

Health Services has continued to engage in communications with local health care agencies on emergency response to Ebola and has developed protocols based on best practice guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Containment of the infection is highly dependent upon careful screening of individuals with fever who have traveled to/from West Africa and/or have been directly exposed to the blood and bodily fluids of infected individuals. Suspected cases must be immediately isolated in a hospital setting.

In the unlikely event that a suspected case would occur in Natchitoches or surrounding areas, we have protocols in place — consistent with those of local health care agencies — to identify and transport that patient to the hospital.  Our success with prevention efforts will be dependent on compliance with policies by the entire campus community.  Our efforts will focus on the following:

·       Information     Stay up to date with information from the CDC.

·       Identification     Identify yourself, if you are at risk, to Health Services by calling 318-357-5351.

·       Isolation     Isolate yourself from others if you develop symptoms. Do not attend class, ballgames, or go to the dining hall, clinic, etc.  Call immediately for assistance.

·       Infection Control     Alert those around you of the possibility of infection, especially EMS workers that provide ambulance transport to the hospital.

It is important to remember that individuals who do not have symptoms are not contagious. The virus is not transmitted by air or water. It is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone who is already experiencing symptoms.  Symptoms of the Ebola virus include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding, and can occur up to 21 days after exposure to someone with the active disease.