The Ebola virus disease (EVD), which used to be known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is an often fatal illness in humans that experienced a large outbreak in 2014 affecting multiple countries in West Africa. The disease even made its way to America as several isolated, travel-related cases surfaced, causing fear of an outbreak in the United States. However, those cases have not resulted in further instances of the disease.
While it is a frightening illness and the 24 hour news cycle can make it seem globally alarming, the risk of catching Ebola in the United States is very low.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups have produced some excellent resources that will help explain how Ebola is spread, the symptoms and the steps you should take in the event of a suspected case in your schools.
- Ebola facts from CDC: Provides the latest information on the progress to stem the outbreak in West Africa, clinical guidance and recommendations for personal protective practices.
- The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has prepared a two page document on preparing for Ebola in schools.
- The New York City Department of Health has created guidance for daycares and schools: receiving students and staff form areas affected by Ebola.
- How to discuss Ebola with your childrenfrom the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Safety and Health Information on Ebola from OSHA
- The Fear of Ebola – How Worried Should You Be? — a blog post by NEA Healthy Futures’ Executive Director, Jim Bender