As you may have learned from reports in the media, one of the doctoral students who returned recently from a research mission to Liberia was hospitalized in isolation on Wednesday night after developing a low-grade fever. There is no indication at this time that the student has contracted the Ebola virus (EVD). The hospitalization decision was made out of an abundance of caution, on the recommendation of the student’s doctors, local and state health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The student is being monitored, and Yale-New Haven Hospital is working with the CDC and the State Department of Public Health to have the student tested for EVD, but the results will not be available immediately.
I understand that this situation may be worrying to some of you, to your families and friends, and to members of the Yale and New Haven communities. The health and safety of our interconnected communities is always our highest priority. The doctoral students who visited Liberia are knowledgeable about public health. They have reported that they were not in contact with Ebola patients or caregivers in Liberia, that they carefully followed recommended travel and hygiene precautions during their stay in the country and that they have continued to do so since their return. In addition, I know our colleagues at Yale-New Haven Hospital are well prepared to address this situation, however it develops, with compassion and skill.
I encourage you to find out all you can about Ebola, its transmission, and its treatment and cure. In-depth information is available at a special web page that has been compiled on the YaleNews site and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Before closing, I feel that I should directly address the question of why our Public Health students – or why anyone affiliated with Yale – would even consider traveling to these dangerous parts of the world. As an academic institution with a research and teaching mission and a long tradition of service, it is important for our clinicians and investigators to be able to go where they can put their training and expertise to the highest, best use. Some members of our community with special expertise may be called on to engage directly in order to advance knowledge and understanding, to treat the sick, or to tend to those who are displaced or suffering. If they do, I hope we will all offer gratitude and support, just as we do now for our hospitalized student.
We will keep you posted as we learn more over the next few days.