University shares update on Ebola risks

This undated file image made available by the CDC shows the Ebola Virus.

This undated file image made available by the CDC shows the Ebola Virus.

Alicia Balog

Kent State University released an update Friday on the risk assessment for Ebola at main campus after the second nurse diagnosed with the virus visited three of her relatives – who are university employees – this past weekend.

The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, a Kent State graduate, did not visit the university’s main campus last weekend when she was in the area planning her wedding.

Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services, wrote in a university-wide press release that after evaluating the employees’ jobs, the university determined the staff members have little contact with students.

“They do not work in classrooms, dining services, residence halls, custodial positions, recreational services, or health services, and their typical work day provided little or no contact with students,” DeJulius wrote. “Even if you came in contact with one of the three relatives, remember that this does not put you at risk because none of the three were ill.”

While the university has not named all three employees, two of the three staff members have been identified as Vinson’s mother, Debra Berry, the senior assistant to Kent State President Beverly Warren, and Vinson’s stepfather, Kelvin Berry, director of Economic Development and Corporate Partnership.

The staff members are not permitted on campus for 21 days and are said to be following local health department guidelines, which is what the Ohio Department of Health recommends for anyone who has come into direct contact with an Ebola patient, according to the letter.

DeJulius wrote that although Ebola is very serious and frightening, it is not an airborne illness and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids and blood of a person with Ebola.

The symptoms of Ebola include:

  • fever above 100.4°F

  • fatigue

  • muscle aches

  • diarrhea

  • vomiting

  • abdominal pain

“If you experience these symptoms, and you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with Ebola (or traveled to an affected country), seek medical care immediately and advise the healthcare providers of your exposure,” DeJulius said. “You may call University Health Service at 330-672-2322 for an appointment, or call our after-hours nurse line at 330-672-2326.”

DeJulius thanked everyone for staying calm during this time but urged them to remain focused on the facts.

“My staff of healthcare professionals at the DeWeese Health Center remains on high alert for any potential case of Ebola on campus,” she wrote. “Your health and safety remain our top priority.”

For those interested in more information, call the Kent Health Department at 1-888-851-6384 for updates on Ebola.

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].