University takes precautions against debilitating disease

Andrew Burnes, Editor

Texas A&M University-Commerce has begun taking precautions and advising students to do the same as Ebola, a debilitating, deadly disease claiming the lives of thousands in Africa, has crossed over to Dallas, already claiming the life of a doctor who had previously treated the infected.

Preventative steps that A&M-Commerce is taking include additional sanitization efforts in areas of high traffic, situational updates between the area’s health departments, public service statements and the following of guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The current Ebola epidemic infecting thousands in several West African countries has been cited as the largest in history. Despite this, experts suggest that a similar outbreak in the United States is extremely low. Even so, the CDC and those allied with the organization have begun taking precautions to minimize the potential risks. Concurrently, according to a release sent out to students from Ethan Derek Preas, director of the Department of Safety and Risk Management on campus, A&M-Commerce, The City of Commerce, Hunt Regional Healthcare agencies, Hunt County Emergency Management and multiple other agencies in the vicinity of the Metroplex are “actively monitoring” the situation and “coordinating situational updates together.

Historically, during Ebola outbreaks, friends and family members of victims of the disease and healthcare workers treating the infected are at the highest risk of contracting the sickness. Although the cases often become very severe potentially resulting in a slow, painful death, the original diagnosis of Ebola in somebody who has recently been affected is very difficult as symptoms are often seen in patients with more common diseases. Even worse, no specific vaccines have been proven to be effected at treating Ebola, adding to the already significant fear fire by many in the public.

Thankfully, Ebola is not contagious until symptoms make their appearance in new victims. The incubation period (the time from between initial exposure to the appearance of symptoms) can end suddenly after just a couple days, or can take much longer, sometimes lasting as long as three weeks before they begin affecting the victim. These signs include severe headache, vomiting, unexplained bleeding or bruising, fever (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), muscle pain, diarrhea or stomach pain.

Though different sources claim different cases of how close to the victim one must be to contract the disease, Preas’ release assures students that Ebola is only spread through “direct contact with blood and body fluids.” These fluids contain mucous, urine, feces, vomit, semen, saliva and sweat. Other potential catalysts for contamination include contact with broken skin, or objects (needles, for instance) that have been contaminated with said bodily fluids. The release states that “Ebola is not spread through the air, water, or food.”

In order to protect yourself from Ebola, it is recommended that you wash you hands often with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and to avoid touching blood or body fluids of sick individuals, or objects that have been in contact with them. In addition, prevention methods for other illnesses including getting a flu shot, disinfecting surfaces and objects and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth are recommended.

Reputable sources for education, recommendation and updates include the CDC’s website:,, The World Health Organization’s site, The Texas Department of State Health Services, and the A&M-Commerce Department of Safety

A&M-Commerce will provide additional updates and information as new developments and situations change. The latest updates can be viewed at the A&M-Commerce website.