Department of Health requests that districts disseminate information
on Ebola outbreak in West Africa
2014 - The fall and winter months often mean more cold
symptoms, influenza and occasional fevers. This season is no different,
but recent media reports about communicable diseases in New York City
and Dallas, Texas, have prompted the Goshen Central
School District to both review its procedures for preventing the
spread of illnesses (such as the flu and colds) and also to respond to
requests from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New
York State Education Department (SED) to distribute information about
“Exceedingly small” likelihood of Ebola occurring in schools
To date, only four people in the United States have
tested positive for Ebola in the last six months out of the thousands
who have traveled to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the
outbreak began. The DOH is monitoring the case of a physician in New
York City who traveled to the area on a humanitarian trip. According to
the DOH and SED, however, “The likelihood of a student with symptoms of
Ebola presenting in a school in New York is exceedingly small.” In an
abundance of caution, though, districts across the state are being
proactive and sharing tips on how to help prevent the spread of
illnesses, as well as facts about Ebola.
Facts about Ebola
Ebola is a rare disease found mostly in African
countries. The first Ebola species was identified in 1976, and the
disease has occurred sporadically in Africa since that time. Here are
other facts you should note about the disease:
• Ebola is ONLY spread through direct contact with
the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is sick and is exhibiting
symptoms or through touching such contaminated objects as needles and
• Ebola does NOT spread through casual contact.
• Ebola is NOT spread through the air and doesn’t
appear to stick to surfaces.
• Ebola is NOT spread through water or through food
grown or legally purchased in the United States.
• Ebola patients cannot infect other people before
they show signs of the illness.
• Health care workers and family/friends of an
infected person are at highest risk of being exposed to the Ebola virus.
• Symptoms can appear between two and 21 days after
Many Ebola symptoms similar to those of other illnesses
The symptoms of Ebola include fever (greater than
101.5◦F or 38.6◦C), severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea,
vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Since
many of these symptoms are similar to those for colds and the flu, it’s
important to keep in mind that the chances of getting Ebola are
extremely low (unless a person has traveled to an affected area), while
also acting to prevent more common illnesses. The
Goshen Central School District previously released
Flu Facts for Parents (PDF), which
outlines flu symptoms and prevention tips.
Recommendations for preventing the spread of the
Ebola virus are much like those for preventing the spread of the flu.
For example, parents are always asked to keep children home if they have
a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Other tips are as follows:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap
and water are not available, use hand sanitizers.
• Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your nose
and mouth when coughing or sneezing; throw the tissue away after using
• Avoid close contact with people who have colds or
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth (germs
spread this way).
• Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such
as doorknobs, faucet handles and toys.
The district is staying informed through continued
contact with local and state health agencies. These agencies have
provided some recommendations to school health offices, such as
reviewing infection control practices, maintaining proper procedures
when interacting with ill students and ensuring adequate supplies of
personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves). It is expected that the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local
health agencies will issue additional guidance specific to school
districts if necessary.
Facts about Ebola in the United States:
Difference between infections spread through air vs.
those spread by droplets:
The New York State Department of Health:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Statewide School Health Services Center:
The New York City Department of Health and Mental
Ebola and the evaluation of a returned traveler: