Penn State update on Ebola virus

October 07, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As a general practice, Penn State's University Health Services (UHS) continuously monitors all infectious diseases, regardless of where the infected person may have been diagnosed. While the Ebola virus poses little risk to the U.S. general population, it has been mentioned frequently in the news and has raised questions about travel to and from various regions of the world.

As an international university, Penn State officials in August identified and contacted about 80 individuals from across the institution who before the start of the academic year had been to regions with suspected Ebola outbreaks. The individuals received follow-up screenings from University medical professionals. None of the individuals have contracted the virus and there is no threat to the campus community.

According to medical experts, the longest it can take someone who has been exposed to the Ebola virus to show symptoms is 21 days — after that, they are not considered a risk. Classes have been in session since late August — with approximately 45 days passing — and there are no reports of any symptoms or illness.

Ebola spreads from person to person through bodily fluids, but it is not as easily transmitted as other illnesses like a cold or flu. It is important to note that the Ebola virus cannot be transmitted until a person exhibits symptoms, unlike a cold or flu that are infectious before symptoms develop. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, abdominal pain, diarrhea and cramping.

UHS staff and medical personnel are closely following all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (available here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/advice-for-colleges-universities-and-students-about-ebola-in-west-africa) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and are continuing to work closely with University and community colleagues to determine risk and ensure the safety of the entire community. Anyone with concerns should visit the CDC web site for more information, or contact UHS at 814-865-6555.

Last Updated October 17, 2014