Rendering of the Ebola virus

UB health officials monitoring Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Published August 15, 2014

In the wake of global concerns about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, UB recognizes that members of the UB community and their families may have questions about UB’s preparedness and the global status of this international public health emergency.

This Q&A addresses some of these questions. Further detailed information, prepared by UB’s Student Health Services, can be found online.

“There is very little risk of Ebola exposure in the United States,” says Susan Snyder, director of student health services. “At the campus level, we feel it’s best to monitor the situation and be prepared, but we don’t feel there’s any reason for the UB community to be alarmed.”

What is the risk of exposure to the Ebola virus at UB?

There have been no cases in the U.S. of Ebola transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk of being exposed at UB, in Buffalo or anywhere in the U.S. is very low.

What parts of the world are affected?

Ebola has been diagnosed in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone since March 2014. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international public health emergency and has launched an international campaign to bring the outbreak under control.

The CDC has emphasized that the outbreak poses “little risk” to the general U.S. population, and health officials “are confident we would not have a spread of Ebola even if we were to have a case here.”

How is Ebola transmitted?

Ebola cannot be transmitted through food, water or air. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to come into direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person experiencing symptoms or be exposed to needles, medical equipment or other objects contaminated with infected secretions.

What protective measures is the university taking to safeguard the health of the UB community?

UB Student Health Services is well-versed in caring for international students and travelers, and uses CDC-recommended protocols for screening, evaluation, isolation and protective procedures.

UB health officials regularly examine the health records of all students prior to the start of the semester to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

In an abundance of caution, the university also will conduct additional health screenings for students entering the university from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. It is important to note that students traveling from West Africa already will have undergone a thorough screening by the airlines.

Additionally, in advance of the fall semester, UB Student Health Services partnered with UB Campus Living (on-campus housing) to prepare residence hall staff and enhance their understanding of the illness, its symptoms and the campus response.

UB health officials are emphasizing that Ebola is not typically shared by casual contact between roommates or colleagues, and there is very low risk for spread of the virus at the university or in the U.S.

Have UB faculty, staff or students traveled to campus from West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak?

A thorough review by the university has indicated that no UB faculty or staff members have been identified as having recently been in West African areas impacted by the outbreak.  

There are a small number of UB students who are residents of a West African country where a small number of Ebola cases have been reported. We have no reason to believe these students have been exposed to the virus.

It is important to note that students traveling from West Africa already will have undergone a thorough screening by the airlines.

What are the recommended travel restrictions?

The university urges all UB community members to avoid travel to the affected areas.

The CDC has issued its highest level of travel warning against any nonessential travel to the affected areas in order to facilitate control of the outbreak and prevent continued spread in two ways: to protect U.S. residents who may be planning travel and to enable the affected countries and public health officials to respond most effectively to contain this outbreak.

If you must travel, protect yourself by following CDC safety advice. For specific guidance, visit 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

What do I do if I think I have been exposed to the Ebola virus?

If you have any concerns about your risk for exposure, consult with a health care provider promptly. Monitor your health for symptoms. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus, though 8-10 days is most common.

If you become ill with fever or flu-like symptoms, consult a health care provider immediately to discuss your symptoms, recent travel and potential exposures, and make arrangements to get timely care for your illness.

Please remember: Ebola is rare. There are many more common infections that cause flu-like symptoms. No matter what the cause of your symptoms, prompt medical care is important for your well-being and to protect others.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions or concerns?

Students who have concerns about their health should contact Student Health Services at (716) 829-3316. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.

For any questions regarding on-campus living arrangements, students and/or their families should contact UB Campus Living (716) 645-2171.