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Ebola Outbreak West Africa - Advice from the University's Occupational Health Service:

You may be aware that there is an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa. It began in March in Guinea but has now spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, including the capital cities of all three countries. 500 deaths have occurred, this represents ~70% fatality rate. No effective treatment is available. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned about further spread but has not yet imposed any travel restrictions on these countries.

Most human infections result from direct contact with the bodily fluids or secretions of infected patients, particularly in hospitals or care settings; unsafe burial procedures or contact with infected animals such as chimpanzees, fruit bats or birds or their carcases. The incubation period, between infectious contact and developing symptoms, varies between 2 and 21 days and initial symptoms are non specific and include fever, headache, sore throat and malaise. Early diagnosis is difficult.

Heads of Schools and Directors should ensure that they are aware of any students or staff who may be in these, and neighbouring countries. All such individuals should be contacted and given support and guidance relevant to their needs and consideration should be given to their continued need to be there on University business. Similarly anyone proposing to travel to these countries should be contacted to ensure that they are aware of the risks and consideration given to the necessity for their visit at this time.

The University recommendation is that students and staff should not travel to these countries except this is absolutely necessary and those who are there or in neighbouring countries should be in regular contact (at least weekly)  with a named individual in the School / Directorate.

Additional information is available from the UK Health Protection Agency  http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Ebola/

and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ebola-cases-in-west-africa-continue-to-rise

Please contact me in the Occupational Health Service (d.o.todd@qub.ac.uk) or 5520 if you need additional specific advice. Further updates will be provided as necessary.

Dr Denis Todd

Senior Medical Officer & Occupational Health Physician.

10 July 2014

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