International Ebola Outbreak

WHOAs you have probably seen in the press, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have declared that the Ebola outbreak is an “international emergency” with confirmed cases and deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Official government advice from the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) at Public Health England (PHE) characterises the outbreak as low risk but potentially high consequence.

Medical advice remains that the risk to the UK is very low. The UK has an established, well-tested system to deal with any known or suspected imported case of this disease. As part of that, precautionary planning measures are being kept up to date and the UK’s Public Health authorities are working closely with clinicians, border staff and other agencies to ensure they are prepared to deal with any eventuality.

About Ebola

Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. Ebola outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests. Ebola virus disease is rare.

The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

The risk of a student or member of staff becoming infected with Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas and developing the disease after returning is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported.

Guidance from the World Health Organisation

  • Persons who come into direct contact with body fluids of an infected person or animal are at risk
  • Ebola symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.

Travel advice will be in accordance with that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The University continues to monitor the information from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England. Any suspected or confirmed case of Ebola will be managed by the University’s Communicable Diseases Policy.