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12 September 2014 Ebola Outbreak Update

21 August 2014 Bardarbunga Volcano

10 July 2014 Ebola Outbreak

12 September 2014 Ebola Outbreak Update

Ebola outbreak West Africa (3)

Update to information provided on 6 August 2014

The previous information indicated that cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) had arisen in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now reports cases in Nigeria (21) and Senegal (1) and that the outbreak may last for up to nine months. There is also a new unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (62). No cases have been reported in the intervening countries of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. This is in keeping with how the disease spreads i.e. it is not an environmental spread such as was the case with Swine Flu three years ago; EVD is spread by direct contact with body fluids in routes similar to HIV, although more infectious. The spread is largely related to healthcare settings or contact with human or animal remains. There is only one case in the UK, in someone who travelled to the UK from an infected area.

The Occupational Health Service is not aware of any current students or staff remaining in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

  1. 1.    Travel to affected countries

The University recommendation remains unchanged except that it now applies to all six countries. 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 prior to travel to ensure that they are aware of the risks and consideration given to the necessity for their visit at this time; travel to these countries on University business is not recommended at this time. Liberia and Sierra Leone have closed their borders to contain the outbreak.

  1. 2.    Travel from affected countries

A small number of new or returning students and staff will be coming to Queen’s from these countries over the next few months. It is most important to emphasise that they do not present any significant risk to the University community. The International Student Support Office is in contact with such students and they are being given specific support and guidance, as they may be concerned about themselves but more commonly about family members at home. The Personnel Department will provide similar support to staff. Heads of School and Directors should ensure that such students and staff are known to the International Student Support Office and the Personnel Department respectively.

The Occupational Health Service is working with the Queen’s International Student Support Office, Personnel, the Health Protection Agency and the DHSSPS (NI) and others to ensure that up to date information and advice is available to those who need it. Requests have been made for advice on how to deal with a student or member of staff recently arrived from one of the infected countries. This is summarised in the attachment to this update but it is most important to deal with the individual with respect and courtesy.  

 

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

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/352487/EVD_Epidemiological_Update_08092014.pdf

and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office 

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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.

12 September2014

 

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21/08/2014 Bardarbunga Volcano

The Icelandic Met Office has recently warned the aviation industry of potential disruption from volcanic ash, raising the alert level for the Barðarbunga volcano to orange, the fourth of five possible alert levels. This means that “the volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption”.

Travellers should be aware that an eruption in 2010 resulted in significant disruption to travel due to the closure of large areas of European airspace. Information on the likely effects of such an eruption can be found here: http://nats.aero/blog/2014/08/happens-bardarbunga-erupts/

UMAL will monitor the situation closely but, at the time of writing, no eruption has been reported and no flight restrictions are in place.

21/08/2014 2:43 pm

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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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