As summer draws to a close and many of our schools are welcoming students back to campus, Tufts University continues to monitor the tragic outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in several West African countries—currently Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and in small numbers in Nigeria. Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the likelihood of the arrival of someone with Ebola virus disease into Massachusetts is very low. Fortunately, the few Tufts-affiliated people whom we know to have traveled in the region recently have not been impacted by the outbreak.
We hope that the following information about the virus and international travel is helpful.
Transmission and Symptoms of Ebola
Unlike many other infectious diseases, such as influenza or measles, Ebola is not transmitted through the air. Rather, the virus is spread through close personal contact with the blood and/or bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. People are only contagious if they have active symptoms. The initial symptom is sudden onset of high fever; affected individuals feel very ill. The incubation period is two to 21 days. If symptoms have not developed after 21 days of exposure, illness will not develop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information about Ebola on its website (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola).
Guidance for People Who Have Recently Visited the Region
Travelers returning from the affected countries who have not had exposure to Ebola through the close contact described above are at extremely low risk of developing the disease. Nevertheless, if you have been in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia or Nigeria in the past three weeks and have any concerns about your health, please contact Tufts University Health Service on the Medford campus at 617-627-3350 or your primary care provider. Any Tufts community member who has been exposed to a patient with Ebola within the past 21 days should contact the Health Service, as special monitoring and consultation with public health authorities is recommended.
The CDC has issued a warning advising against all non-essential travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Members of the Tufts community are strongly advised to heed these cautions and to avoid travel to these three countries. For Nigeria, the CDC has issued an alert to practice enhanced precautions. Tufts does not have programs in the affected countries. The Tufts-in-Ghana study abroad program continues; Ghana has not seen any Ebola illnesses and there are no travel warnings for that country.
Travel Services and Supports for the Tufts Community
For many years, Tufts University has worked with International SOS (https://www.internationalsos.com/en), a medical and travel security services company, to ensure that we are able to locate Tufts travelers in any part of the world and to provide emergency assistance as needed. The university strongly recommends that all Tufts travelers register their work- or study-related trips with International SOS so that we can quickly locate travelers and provide emergency assistance if needed. Whether you are currently abroad or are considering travel abroad, please contact International SOS at 215-942-8226. That line is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; collect calls are accepted. If you do not have the Tufts International SOS membership number, please visit http://finance.tufts.edu/risk-ins/international-travel/ or contact Claudia Jackson, Tufts Program Manager for International Safety and Operations, 617-627-3762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed of any changes in an effort to safeguard the health and wellness of the Tufts community.