It’s OK to hug a Penn State archaeologist or anthropology grad student who might have spent time in Africa this summer.
Although some recent reports have said that about 80 Penn State students were being monitored at University Park and the 19 Commonwealth Campuses around the state for signs of Ebola, that information is out of date, according to the university.
“To be crystal clear, there are no cases of Ebola, period,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers.
A number of individuals connected with the university had been in areas of the world with outbreaks, or suspected outbreaks, of the serious hemorrhagic illness native to the African continent. Powers said the number was fewer than the 80 reported, and all possible exposures had been prior to the start of the fall semester.
“While Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population, clinicians are advised to be alert for signs and symptoms of Ebola in patients who have a recent (within 21 days) travel history to countries where the outbreak is occurring or have had contact with a person infected with Ebola. In the event that a potential case is identified, clinicians should isolate the patient pending diagnostic testing,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recommendations to universities on dealing with students and others who may have been to affected areas.
“CDC is not recommending colleges and universities isolate or quarantine students, faculty or staff based on travel history alone. Colleges and universities should identify students, faculty and staff who have been in countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring within the past 21 days and should conduct a risk assessment with each identified person to determine his or her level of risk exposure (high- or low-risk exposures, or no known exposure),” the agency advised.
Powers said the university followed those guidelines.
“Classes have been in session since late August and no one has reported any symptoms or illness. We are no longer asking individuals to monitor themselves for fever or symptoms, as everyone has indicated they are healthy,” she said.