Grand Valley State University has recently created its own Ebola task force. This group of individuals is responsible for preparing to handle an Ebola issue if one were to arise, including identifying resources available, organizations they would contact and procedures that would be followed.

While this task force has been created, Matt McLogan, vice president for university relations and a member of the task force, has insisted that GVSU students have no need to be concerned. There are currently no faculty, staff or students in the African countries that are a part of the focus of the Ebola outbreak, he said.

It’s important for students to know the facts about Ebola, since it is receiving so much attention, and to know how unlikely the chances are of them contracting the disease.

First, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ebola virus is not spread through casual contact, air, water or food grown or legally purchased in the United States. The only way a person would contract the virus is if they came in contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or who has died from Ebola, objects contaminated with virus – such as needles or medical equipment – or infected animals.

The symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising and muscle pain. Ebola can only be spread to others after symptoms begin, and can start to appear 2 to 21 days after exposure.

While the disease is serious, students need not be concerned about catching the disease, as there have been no cases of it in Michigan, and no known person on the campus community has been in contact with someone who is being watched for Ebola.

It is also important for students to realize how many African countries are actually being substantially affected by the disease. Only three countries in West Africa – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – have had large outbreaks, while others in countries like Nigeria and Senegal were considered to be contained cases.

Students needn’t be concerned about catching Ebola, but should take the time to learn more about it so they can have all the facts and be informed of this topic that is being discussed worldwide.