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Ebola fears prompt big responses around globe

17 October 2014, 06:54

Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluid, such as getting an infected person's blood or vomit into the eyes or through a cut in the skin, not through the air, experts say. And people infected with Ebola aren't contagious until they start showing symptoms, such as fever, body aches or stomach pain, research shows. But fears over the virus spreading have prompted an outsized response:

Three diagnosed in US:

A Liberian man who traveled to Dallas has died from the virus in the U.S. and two Dallas nurses who had contact with him were recently diagnosed. One of the nurses, Amber Vinson, traveled on Frontier Airlines to and from Cleveland.

Schools closed, classes canceled:

A Cleveland-area school canceled classes in two buildings after learning a staff member might have flown on the Frontier Airlines plane, though not the same flight, as Vinson. Three school campuses in Belton, Texas, were closed because two students traveled on the same flight as her. The campuses and school buses were being disinfected. Austin Peay State University in Tennessee canceled a study abroad program to Senegal next year.

Facebook fears:

In San Diego County on Thursday, staff on a college campus roped off a classroom building with about 50 people inside after a student told her instructor her sister was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. The family had just returned on a flight from the Midwest, feeding rumors on social media that they had been on board the same plane that carried the Texas nurse who tested positive for Ebola. None of that turned out to be true. After more than an hour, the school posted on its Facebook page: "NO EBOLA ON SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE CAMPUS." The student later acknowledged to officials that she had made up the story so she wouldn't be dropped for missing class, college spokeswoman Lillian Leopold said.

Also Read: US health chiefs in hot seat over flawed Ebola response
Quarantine, voluntary and otherwise:

The two Belton, Texas, students were being kept at home for 21 days, the incubation period of the virus. At least seven people in northeast Ohio were quarantined and monitored because they had contact with Vinson as she traveled to Ohio for preparations for her upcoming wedding. A retail shop she visited was closed.

Excalibur the dog:

Spanish authorities euthanized the pet dog of a nursing assistant and her husband on October 9 after the woman was diagnosed with Ebola. She caught the virus after treating a victim who came from Sierra Leone. Madrid's regional government said Excalibur was killed because it posed a risk of transmitting the disease to humans, even though experts said they were uncertain about that threat.

Paid leave:

Frontier Airlines said in a staff memo that four flight attendants and two pilots were on paid leave for 21 days. The Cleveland Clinic and The MetroHealth System said Wednesday that some of their nurses and other employees on the same flight were also on paid leave. An employee of Louisiana State University who trained Liberian police officers to use protective clothing was asked to stay off campus for three weeks.

False alarm:

A student from Ghana landed in Prague on Saturday on a flight from Lisbon and was told to see a doctor because he looked ill. He failed to do it and was detained at a train station hours later. A video posted on the Internet showed him covered with a black plastic and escorted in a wheelchair by a person wearing protective gear. He was later tested negative and released. A Health Ministry spokesman defended officials' actions.

Wall street:

Airline investors worried that the scare over the virus could cause travelers to avoid flying. Shares of the biggest U.S. airlines tumbled between 5 and 8 percent before recovering in afternoon trading Wednesday.

Also Read: EU to launch 'immediate' review of exit screening in Ebola-hit African states

Malaria, not Ebola:

Dessie Quinn, a 44-year-old telecommunications engineer, spent six months working on an Internet cabling project in Sierra Leone and then returned home to Donegal, northwest Ireland, in August suffering from suspected malaria. He went out to a local pub with friends on Sunday, Aug. 16 then wasn't seen again until friends found him dead at his home five days later. The local hospital quarantined his body as a suspected Ebola case, but his family found out about this only on news bulletins on the RTE state network.

Symptom free but uninvited:

New York's Syracuse University "uninvited" Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Michel du Cille, of The Washington Post, to the school's fall journalism workshop since du Cille returned from covering the Ebola crisis in Liberia. Du Cille said he returned 21 days ago and is symptom free. Lorraine Branham, dean of the university's school of public communications, said Syracuse consulted with university and county health officials and decided to be cautious. "I erred in favor of students' safety," she said. Branham said she has invited du Cille visit the campus in a few weeks to share "the terrific work he did in Liberia" and discuss his concerns over being excluded from the workshop.

- AP

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