With the Ebola threat front and center in social media, TV news and headlines, all eyes were on Friendswood ISD in a recent decision regarding one of its teachers traveling in Africa.
Though the Cline Elementary teacher had been on a trip to Tanzania – located in East Africa and 3,300 miles from the West Africa Ebola outbreaks — the district has opted as a precautionary measure to enact a 21-day observation period after the teacher’s return to the Friendswood before returning to the classroom.
“The decision to do 21 observation days was mutually agreed upon by the teacher and district,” FISD spokesperson Karolyn Gephart said. “This helps alleviate apprehension and dismiss concerns.”
A senior official at the Galveston County Health Department has stated that the returning second-grade teacher was not at risk for Ebola while in Tanzania.
First identified in 1976, the largest outbreak of the virus to date is the 2014 West African cases, affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with nearly 10,000 cases and 4,555 deaths reported as of this month.
Tanzania is located approximately 3300 miles away from Nigeria, where Ebola has claimed 8 lives.
The Centers for Disease Control on Sept. 30 confirmed the very first U.S. case of Ebola in a person who had traveled to Dallas – 268 miles from Friendswood – from West Africa. That patient, who reportedly did not have symptoms before leaving West Africa, died on Oct. 8.
Recently dubbed “Fearbola” by CNN Commentator Mel Robbins, the virus did spread to at least two health care workers at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the patient.
The CDC reports that the time between exposure to the virus and the development of symptoms of the disease is usually 2 to 21 days, and the spread of Ebola between people occurs only by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person after symptoms have developed.