MIT has a large international population, and as students, faculty, and staff return to campus for the fall semester, MIT Medical is responding to concerns about community members who may have spent some portion of the summer months in an area impacted by the Ebola virus.
According to MIT Medical’s associate medical director Howard Heller, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, MIT Medical is following the most recent Ebola advisory for colleges and universities from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The advisory recommends that individuals returning from an affected area be in touch with campus health officials to identify their level of risk and, if necessary, be instructed on how to monitor their health until the 21-day incubation period has passed.
“With assistance from the MIT International Students Office, the International Scholars Office, and the MIT Travel Office — along with a review of patient records from MIT Medical’s Travel Clinic — we have identified members of the MIT community who are from, or who recently have traveled to, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone,” explains Heller. “This is a very small number of individuals,” he notes. “All have been contacted directly and are well.
“Any member of the MIT community who has traveled to one of the three primarily affected countries, but who has not been contacted by MIT Medical, should ‘check in’ with me,” he adds. Heller can be contacted by by email or by phone at 617-253-1615. “Again,” he says, “we’re concerned only with travel to and from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Although several cases of Ebola have occurred in Nigeria, all have been in persons who traveled to one of the three primarily affected countries or in healthcare workers who had contact with them. There have been no Nigerian cases involving community transmission, and currently, there are no restrictions on visitors from Nigeria coming to the United States.” Members of the Institute community with questions about medical issues related to Ebola may contact contact Heller or Infection Control Specialist Jackie Sherry at MIT Medical. Questions regarding trip cancellations or other travel matters should be directed to the MIT Travel Office. Further information about Ebola symptoms and precautions can be found on the CDC website.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Heller emphasizes, “and we will keep the community informed. Our recommendations and outreach efforts may change as the situation evolves.”