Campus message on Ebola preparedness and travel

Dr. Brad Buchman, medical director of University Health Services at UC Berkeley, sent this message to the campus community today (Friday, Oct. 3):

As the medical director for UC Berkeley’s University Health Services, I am writing to update you on our preparedness efforts and to provide advice to students, staff, and faculty who may be contemplating travel to Ebola-affected countries. You can continue to stay updated by following the University Health Services (UHS) Ebola page.

IN THIS EMAIL:

  • Current Ebola Epidemic Status
  • How UC Berkeley is Responding
  • Advice for Travelers
  • Stay Updated

Current Ebola Epidemic Status

The current Ebola epidemic has primarily infected people in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria. Almost everyone who has been infected to date resides in one these four countries. To date, there have been only three U.S. cases, all involving people who recently traveled or worked in these Ebola-affected countries. In August, 2014, two American healthcare workers became ill while providing healthcare to Ebola patients and were brought back to the U.S. for treatment in Atlanta. On September 30, 2014, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed within the continental U.S. occurred in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia.

While the diagnosis of the first case of Ebola within the U.S. is attracting a great deal of media attention and raising understandable concerns, it is important to note that the CDC has indicated that Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the general U.S. population. At the same time, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is stating that even though the risk of the spread of Ebola to California remains low, it would not be surprising to eventually see a case in California because of our location, and the number of visitors who come to our state from abroad.

How UC Berkeley is Responding

Though the risk of an Ebola case in the Berkeley campus community is also remote, campus leaders and health officials have been coordinating preparedness efforts for many months. Senior campus administrators and University Health Services (UHS), in collaboration with experts from the School of Public Health, the Office of Environment, Health & Safety as well as local and state public health officials, have taken measures to prepare for a potential case locally, including:

  • Continual monitoring of CDC advisories on the Ebola outbreak
  • Ongoing coordination with other campus groups and UC Office of the President
  • Advising travelers traveling to and from areas of ongoing transmission
  • Monitoring and evaluating returning travelers who may be at risk
  • Assessing and reinforcing infection control measures and equipment
  • Proactive planning with local and state public health officials and campus partners on how to manage a potential exposures to, or a suspect case of, the Ebola virus

Advice for Travelers

Our Berkeley community has a valuable tradition of public service, research, teaching and education abroad. We urge anyone considering travel to high-risk areas to be aware of local conditions and take appropriate precautions.

  • Guidance: UC has applied the CDC Ebola-related guidance by creating a protocol covering pre-travel preparation, guidance while inEbola-risk areas and re-entry protocol. See Protocol (PDF) and Recommendations for Humanitarian Aid Workers (PDF).
  • Insurance: The University has arranged for employees and students traveling on official university business to be covered for a wide variety of accidents and incidents while away from the campus or primary workplace. See the UC Travelers Insurance page for details.
  • If you have returned from affected countries for less than 3 weeks and develop fever:  If a person has travelled to an affected country and develops a fever within three weeks of their return—the virus’s maximum incubation period— they should contact their health care provider by phone and let the provider know of their travel history and current symptoms.
  • Find other important pre-trip planning resources on the UHS Ebola page.

Stay Updated

As the situation evolves, we’ll continue to post updates on the UHS Ebola page.For additional timely updates we encourage you to visit the CDCEbola page.

Sincerely,

Brad Buchman M.D., M.B.A.

Medical Director, University Health Services