Preparing for the worst-case scenario

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s a disease with a 90 percent fatality rate, and no known cure.

With classes back in session in about three weeks, Purdue student Arpitha Gadag said the threat of the Ebola Virus coming to campus is a concern.

“It’s a very real threat, and I think it’s very scary and frightening,” said Gadag.

Purdue health officials say they’re prepared if the virus makes its way to Indiana.

“We’ve made sure that every staff person here at the health center has had an opportunity to review the symptomatology, the incubation period, all the things we look for, and how the disease is spread,” said Purdue University Student Health Center medical director Dr. Sarah Sayger.

Sayger said students need to be aware of what to look for. She said students who have recently traveled and are experiencing a high fever should seek immediate care.

“We know that we have folks coming from African nations, we know that we have folks that share flights with people,” said Sayger. “I think still though the risk overall is low.”

Sayger said the virus is spread through bodily fluids, and is not an airborne virus.

Although it is a threat, she said if someone were to become infected it is likely it would be contained easily.

“We have these huge resources that allow folks to be protected, and it’s unlikely that this would move through the community in the same way that it has some of the African countries,” Sayger said.

She said the United States has access to better nutrition and better hygiene and sanitation removal then the countries affected. Sayger said those processes alone will reduce the risk of Ebola on the campus and the community.

“They’ll be community concern, absolutely, but I don’t think they’ll be that epidemic proportion that we’re seeing in some of these very poor African nations,” said Sayger.

Ebola, as well as other infectious diseases, are already on the health center’s radar. Sayger said the university has detailed infection control systems in place.

Starting Monday, the health center will have a telephone line for Ebola-related medical concerns. Those with a concern can call 765-496-0320 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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