Maria Hornung 0

Disagreement regarding Ebola decision

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To Whom It May Concern:

We are writing on behalf of many concerned members of the School of Public Health community. We were saddened to hear of the decision to ask Dr. Muriel Harris to work from home for 21 days due to fear of Ebola transmission. You may very well know the protocol for this situation, however we feel compelled to review due to this decision is not founded in nationally recognized public health protocol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Harris would be categorized in the Low (but not zero) risk category. The following applies for an individual in this Low Risk category who is asymptomatic:

-No restrictions on travel, work, public conveyances, or congregate gatherings

-Direct active monitoring for: (1) U.S.-based healthcare workers caring for symptomatic Ebola patients while wearing appropriate PPE. (2) Travelers on an aircraft with, and sitting within 3 feet of, a person with Ebola

-Active monitoring for all others in this category

The executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA) released a statement saying “APHA opposes measures announced recently by several states requiring the quarantine of asymptomatic health care workers.” He continues to state, “While we understand there is concern among the public about this disease, we need to follow the science, which is being reinforced every day. Ebola can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of individuals experiencing symptoms. Until an individual has symptoms, he or she is not contagious.”

It is our belief that decisions made to quarantine an individual outside of CDC protocol likely contributes to the irrational fears that media coverage has implanted in people’s perceptions of the situation. Yes, the Ebola outbreak is devastating. Yes, there are many strict precautions and protocols that need to be followed. But when low risk for the disease is determined and no fever or symptoms are present, there is no reason to ban a person from campus or any activity.

As public health students we believe this decision sets a bad precedent for the University; that decisions are made on political grounds and not based in science is disconcerting.

It is important to note that Dr. Blakely and Dr. Harris did not have any part in this petition.

Thank you for your time,

The School of Public Health Community as signed below

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