The fourth American discovered to be infected with the Ebola virus was flown into Atlanta, Georgia, early Tuesday morning for treatment at Emory University Hospital, where two other patients with the virus were treated and discharged.
Ebola, which was first diagnosed in 1976, has recently experienced a resurgence in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia, killing 2,288 of the 4,269 people infected, according to the World Health Organization.
The entrance of another Ebola victim into the United States comes just two days after President Barack Obama stated that he is seriously considering dispatching U.S. military services into the infected area of western Africa.
“If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates. It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” Obama said.
In response to growing public concerns, the Plattsburgh State Student Health Center has implemented precautions, reaching out to campus community members who are known to have ties with infected countries.
According to the school website, Health Center Director Kathleen Camelo said none of these people have been exposed to the virus, which causes a viral hemorrhagic fever disease.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, headaches, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding, Camelo said.
PSUC Professor and Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Kathleen Lavoie, a microbiologist, said that while Ebola was initially an animal virus, particularly rampant among fruit bats, it eventually made the leap to humans, much like HIV.
However, because fruit bats are not present in the United States, Lavoie said she believes Ebola
will not grow into a bigger issue as many others do because it can only be spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone infected or exposure to items such as needles that have already been contaminated.
“It will be [a larger scale issue], but in Africa, where there is not even enough basic material, like masks and gloves, to prevent spread,” Lavoie said. “Unless there is a drastic change in the virus, it will not become a pandemic. I have told people that it is about as likely as a zombie apocalypse — which, unfortunately, some people believe in.”
Students with a potential exposure to the virus are encouraged to contact the PSUC Health Center, as well as to monitor their health for the aforementioned symptoms over the next three weeks.
PSUC faculty and staff with potential exposure should contact the Clinton County Health Department, but are welcome to reach out to the Health Center as well.
Faculty, staff and students can also contact the Health Center with any questions or concerns.
Camelo said anyone traveling to the infected regions who become ill during their travel or during the 21 days subsequent to their travel — even if only a fever — should phone their health-care provider or the emergency room immediately.