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Ebolavirus disease (EVD) outbreaks in West Africa

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21 January 2016

Since March 2014, West Africa has experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease
(EVD) in recorded history with multiple countries affected. Formerly referred to as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, the outbreak has centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and led to more than 11,000 deaths.

Widespread transmission of EBV in West Africa has been progressively controlled, and in late 2015 WHO declared Guinea and Liberia to be Ebola free. On 15 January Sierra Leone health officials reported a new death from EVD. WHO stress the potential for ongoing flare-ups of the virus in the Ebola-affected countries.

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease in Victoria.

About Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

EVD is a rare disease that causes severe symptoms and can be life-threatening. Humans may contract the virus from infected animals (such as monkeys, bats and pigs). The virus can spread from person to person through direct contact with bodily fluids, including blood and waste products as well as indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluid, including health care settings and burial ceremonies in West Africa. Importantly Ebola virus is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Contact and droplet precautions are sufficient to prevent transmission. While EVD is a very serious disease, it is not highly contagious to the general population.

There is no known vaccine or cure for EVD, although experimental vaccines and treatments are under evaluation. Current management of positive cases consists of supportive care.

The Department of Health reiterates that there are no cases of EVD in Australia and the risk of an outbreak in Australia is very low. Several suspected cases have been tested and results indicated they have not had Ebola virus.

The Australian Government have stringent controls in place to deal with any threat and our border control is robust. A range of enhanced measures have been implemented from November 2014 to ensure that all incoming travellers are given Ebola-related information, and to identify travellers who may present an Ebola risk.The Australian Government continues to closely monitor the situation overseas and constantly reviews the efficacy of our border measures.

Travel implications

As of the 7th November, Monash University advises that education-related travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone must be postponed until further notice. For further advice visit "Advice for Student Exchange, Intercampus Exchange, International Study Tours".

It is the accepted University protocol to follow Government advisories and Australians are asked to reconsider their need to travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This reflects the seriousness of the outbreak, the challenges in containing it and the evolving travel restrictions which will significantly reduce freedom of movement in the region.

Monash University follows the guidelines and recommendations for travel set out by Department Foreign Affairs and Trade (smartraveller) and Commonwealth Department of Health. All staff and students required to travel internationally to fulfill their university work commitments must seek and receive formal authorisation prior to departure from their home campus in accordance with Monash Travel policies. Authorisation comprises formal approval of a travel request by the authorising officer and, for high-risk travel approval by the Dean and, in some circumstances, the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice-President. These approvals are managed through Monash's Travel Management System currently Concur.

At Monash we will continue to monitor the situation closely. The University Health Services [UHS] and Occupational Health and Safety [OHS] websites will be updated to include appropriate traveller advice in respect to Ebola.

Further information is available from the following websites:

Relevant Monash University websites