Ebola affects USU traveling policies

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Posted Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 2:18pm

Utah State University is not allowing anyone who has traveled to African countries infected with Ebola to return to any of its campuses.

Recent Ebola scares in America set people on high alert, and USU set precautions to aid in its prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola was reported in the United States for the first time after a man flew back from Libera to Texas.

Only a few cases were reported in the U.S. and these cases have since been taken care of. Although the U.S. is now free from Ebola, the disease is still a concern for citizens, primarily those that traveled to “at risk” countries last fall.

The first epidemic in West Africa was reported in 2013 and Ebola spread across countries since the first reported case. As of Feb. 16, 2015, confirmed cases exceeded 23,000 with over 9,300 deaths according to Wikipedia.

An email was sent to all members of USU Eastern by Suzanne Thorpe, USU’s vice president for student services, to inform students of risks in West Africa. This email also highlighted USU policies for traveling to “at risk” countries, mainly those located in West Africa.

“First, effective immediately, Utah State University will comply with the CDC recommendation and restrict all university-related travel to countries currently listed in the Level-3 Travel Warning. This means that travel is limited to only university-related research or humanitarian efforts and must receive prior approval by the provost,” according to the email.

The CDC countries with a warning of Level-3 include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The epidemic is slowly being controlled, but it is still recommended that all travel to be stopped to these “at risk” countries.

If travel to these countries is required, the CDC recommends several practices to prevent the spread and contraction of Ebola. Practice careful hygiene (wash hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer), do not handle items that may have come in contact with infected blood or fluid (such as clothes, bedding and needles), avoid funerals or burial rituals that practice handling the body of someone who died from Ebola and avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates.

USU is requiring that students, faculty and staff who travel to Level 3 countries to not be allowed to return to campus until USU student health services and Bear River Health Department has cleared and given permission for the return.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Judy Crockett, USU Emergency Manager, at [email protected].

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