BIS Update on Ebola Outbreak

Dear Parents, Students, Colleagues and Friends of BIS,
With the approach of the new school year we are all quite rightly concerned as to how the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa will impact on the school. The health and safety of all members of the school community remains, as always, our paramount concern and we have thus looked deeply into the issue drawing on the resources of our AISEN colleagues, the WHO and various embassy publications. 
Firstly let me outline the known facts about this disease, based on information provided by the US State Department and the CDC ( :

The suspected reservoirs of the disease are fruit bats.

Transmission to humans is thought to originate from infected bats or primates that have been infected by bats. Eating under- cooked infected bat and primate(bush) meat allows the transmission of the disease to humans.

Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola virus or contact with their body fluids.

Transmission among humans is almost exclusively among caregiver family members or health care workers attending the very ill.

According to the experts the Ebola virus is not very robust outside a host body and can easily be killed with soap, bleach, sunlight or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus on clothes saturated with infected body fluids.

Infected persons incubate the virus for between 2 and 21 days, the average being 5 to 8 days. The disease is not contagious until the victim is acutely ill.

Symptoms of the disease typically include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and in some cases a rash, red eyes, hiccups,cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficult breathing, difficult swallowing, bleeding inside and outside the body. Unless an individual has been in contact with the Ebola virus, as above, it is highly unlikely they are infected and the above symptoms relate to some other ailment, nevertheless early testing is recommended for the health and security of all.

Only when the victim becomes ill does the viral load express itself in blood and other bodily fluids. 

Individuals with the virus walking around are not infectious to others. There are documented cases from Kikwit DRC of an Ebola outbreak in a village that had the custom of children never touching an ill adult. Children living for days in one room huts with parents who died from Ebola did not become infected.

You cannot contract Ebola by handling money or swimming in a pool.

Although much of the above suggests it is difficult to contract this terrible disease it is not a cause for complacency and thus the school will be taking the following steps:

All members of staff will be screened and closely monitored with regard to the symptoms. Anyone showing suspect symptoms will be tested and kept away from school until the symptoms subside or they are given a clean bill of health.

We would advise that students exhibiting any of the outlined symptoms are also kept away from school until the symptoms clear up or they are given a clean bill of health.

School nurses to be provided with necessary training as to symptoms and dealing with issues related to the current situation.

We will set up a protocol with the school's hospital to reduce visits to a minimum and how to deal with any issues arising.

All entering the school will be required to use hand sanitizer on entrance to the school premises.

Although sanitizer will be available in school we would encourage all members of the community to carry their own supply of hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer wipes.

All First Aid events will be only be dealt with by staff wearing disposable rubber gloves. In the rare events of bodily fluid spills, blood or vomit, the area will be evacuated immediately and cleaned using bleach etc.

All cleaning staff will be required to wear rubber gloves at all times while carrying out their duties.

School toilets will be cleaned on a regular basis using bleach.

All catering staff to be required to wear disposable gloves when serving etc.

Until further notice we will try to reduce meetings where large numbers are called together to a minimum.

Information will posted around the school continually reminding all members of our community of their duty of care to each other.

Many of the above procedures are already in place and we must ensure we remain vigilant at all times. With these measures in place and your continued support I am sure we will be able to continue your child's education with the minimum disruption and there will be no need to close the school. However in the weeks leading up to the commencement of the 2014-2015 academic year we will closely monitor the situation taking into account advice from the relevant authorities. In the meantime should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly or any other member of the school team.

I hope the above helps and I look forward to seeing you all at the start of the new school year.
With best wishes

Peter Yates