Duke updates Ebola/Travel Policy

In August, Duke issued warnings about travel to certain West African countries due to Ebola. Duke has updated its policy to include a full ban on Duke-sanctioned travel to Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone for undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty and staff are being “discouraged” from travelling to these countries. There are many nations (or parts of countries) with current travel restrictions for Duke students and/or faculty and staff.

Full email below.

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Ever since Ebola began spreading in West Africa, Duke officials have been monitoring the situation closely with infectious disease experts in Duke Medicine. As a reminder, Ebola is not an airborne virus and cannot be spread through casual contact. It can be contracted only through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as the blood or vomit of an infected patient.

While the risk of infection in the United States remains extremely low, Duke Medicine has been preparing for contingencies, no matter how unlikely they may seem, should a possible Ebola patient present in one of its hospitals or clinics. Planning has been done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the N.C. State Department of Health and Human Services, as well as leaders from Duke’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Emergency Preparedness.

Medical protocols have been established and are in effect across Duke Medicine to screen all patients entering the system for possible risk of exposure to Ebola. Any patient thought to be at risk as a result of screening questions will be interviewed by infectious disease experts to determine any next steps. Specific plans are in place to ensure the utmost safety and care for patients and health care providers, including the use of personal protective equipment for all emergency departments and clinics.

Duke Medicine is also coordinating closely with Duke’s Student Health Center to ensure the safety of our students. Duke has imposed full country travel restrictions on Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone for undergraduate students, and all graduate students, faculty and staff members are discouraged from traveling to these countries. But at any given time, Duke has students, faculty and staff in locations around the world, and conditions related to Ebola could change quickly based on potential cases that may arise in other countries. It is critical that Duke be able to identify the location of individuals traveling internationally and provide support as conditions warrant. So all students, faculty and staff traveling abroad are strongly encouraged to use the International Travel Registry (https://travel.duke.edu/).

Duke has also established a process by which any student, faculty or staff member who has traveled to West Africa recently must contact Employee Occupational Health & Wellness or the Student Health Center to consult with medical staff prior to returning to campus.

Duke’s emergency management team continues to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as new information becomes available. For more information about Ebola, visit the special website created by the Duke Global Health Institute: http://globalhealth.duke.edu/ebola

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Managing@Duke is an electronic memo distributed to university managers to inform, support and enable them to fulfill their supervisory roles at Duke.  For more information, visit:https://www.hr.duke.edu/managers/memos/index.php

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy at Duke University (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute). I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and currently serve as Chair of Duke's University Priorities Committee (UPC). My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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