IONA College Logo | Go to Home Page

Emerging Health Issues

To all members of the Iona College Community,
 
The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia has gained international media coverage. The concerns domestically have elevated with Ebola cases identified in the state of Texas and most recently in New York City.  However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently indicates EVD poses little risk to the population of the United States. Individuals who have recently travelled to regions where Ebola cases are occurring may be at risk for exposure. In early September, in an email to all members of community, Health Services requested any student, faculty, or staff member who had recently travelled to the affected areas of West Africa contact Health Services at 914-633-2548. We continue to ask that any member of the Iona community travelling to these countries or knowing they may have been exposed to someone who did travel to any of these countries or had possible contact with an Ebola patient immediately contact Health Services upon their return and prior to entering the Iona College campus.
 
EVD symptoms include: fever (greater than 100.4 degrees ), severe headache, joint/muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising). These symptoms begin to appear between 2 to 21 days of exposure. A complete list of Ebola symptoms are available at the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/symptoms/index.html .
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following guidelines for colleges and universities:
  • Faculty, students and staff members who have arrived in the United States from an affected area within the past three weeks should be monitored.  CDC is not recommending colleges isolate or quarantine students, faculty or staff based on travel history alone. 
  • Health Services should conduct a risk assessment with each identified person and give instructions for health monitoring.
  • Faculty, students and staff members who remain healthy after 21 days are not at risk for Ebola and can stop monitoring their temperature.
  • If a student, faculty, or staff member has had a high- or low-risk exposure, state or local public health authorities should be notified, and school officials should consult with public health authorities for guidance about how that person should be monitored. Anyone with a potential exposure should receive thorough education about immediately reporting symptoms and staying away from other people if symptoms develop.
  • If a person has a fever or develops a fever during the 21-day observation period, he or she should immediately consult a health-care provider. The person should advise the provider about the symptoms and recent travel before going to the office or emergency room to decrease any potential risk of spreading the virus.
  • Faculty, students, and staff members who become ill more than three weeks after arriving from an Ebola affected country do not need to be evaluated for Ebola.
 
Risk factors based on the degree of exposure http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/fs1027-monitoring-symptoms-controlling-movement.html:

High risk—direct contact of infected body fluids through:
  • needle stick, or splashes to eyes, nose or mouth
  • getting body fluids directly on skin
  • handling body fluids, such as in a laboratory, without wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) or following recommended safety precautions
  • touching a dead body without correctly wearing PPE in a country with widespread Ebola transmission (In countries with widespread Ebola transmission, it is not always known what a person died of. Therefore touching any dead body in one of these countries is considered a high risk exposure.)
  • living with and caring for a person showing symptoms of Ebola
Some risk— 
  • close contact with a person showing symptoms of Ebola such as in a household, health care facility, or the community (no PPE worn). Close contact means being within 3 feet of the person with Ebola for a long time without wearing PPE.
  • in countries with widespread Ebola transmission: direct contact with a person showing symptoms of Ebola while wearing PPE
 Low risk (but not zero)—
  • having been in a country with widespread Ebola transmission within the previous 21 days and having no known exposure
  • being in the same room for a brief period of time (without direct contact) with a person showing symptoms of Ebola
  • having brief skin contact with a person showing symptoms of Ebola when the person was believed to be not very contagious
  • in countries without widespread Ebola transmission: direct contact with a person showing symptoms of Ebola while wearing PPE
  • travel on an airplane with a person showing symptoms of Ebola
No risk—
  • contact with a person who is NOT showing symptoms AFTER that person was in contact with a person with Ebola
  • contact with a person with Ebola BEFORE the person was showing symptoms
  • having traveled to a country with Ebola outbreak MORE than 21 days ago
  • having been in a country where there is no widespread Ebola transmission (e.g., the United States), and having no other exposures to Ebola
Information from the CDC and the New York State Department of Health is changing rapidly, and although we cannot control every possible situation, be assured that all precautions are being implemented to protect the Iona community against Ebola.
 
Health Services has begun telephone screening of all appointments to include travel history and contacts in the past 21 days to the affected areas of West Africa as recommended by the New York State Department of Health. This will be replicated in all clinical areas on campus.  Residence halls has initiated screening of all visitors of Iona residential students. Informational signage will be posted throughout campus.
 
The clinicians of Health Services will continue to monitor all information released by the CDC, New York State Department of Health, Westchester County Department of Health and American College Health Association, and update and advise the Iona community as necessary.
 
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the EVD, please contact Health Services at (914) 633-2548.