The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has people concerned around the world including staff, families and students in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the risk of Ebola disease being spread in Wisconsin is extremely low. In order to ensure our students' continuing safety, MMSD follows guidance from the experts at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Public Health Madison and Dane County. It is also important to remember that at this time of the year students are most commonly sick from colds and influenza. Colds and flu are spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a contaminated surface.
Remember you can protect yourself and family from spread of any infections by these actions:
- Encourage good hand washing.
- Cover your cough.
- Get an influenza (flu) shot.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Important Facts about Ebola
Ebola is not spread by simply being in the same room with someone who is infected with the virus, and the disease cannot be spread from people who don’t have symptoms. Transmission requires direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, feces or other secretions, or from exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.
- You can’t get Ebola through the air.
- You can’t get Ebola through water.
- You can’t get Ebola through food.
Please reassure children about these facts
Erasing the Myths behind Ebola
Dr. Angela Moemeka from Children’s Health sheds light on the facts and myths surrounding the Ebola virus.
Calming Children's Fears about Ebola
Understandably, media coverage about Ebola is heavy. For that reason, limiting young children’s exposure to news stories may be warranted. This allows parents to decide what information they want to share based on their child’s level of understanding. (See link to Kids Health)
Here are some things to remind children:
- They are safe.
- Our health care system is among the best in the world for taking care of sick people.
- Ebola is rare and does not exist everywhere. When cases are found, the person with the infection is taken to a safe place to be cared for so that they can get better and not make anyone else sick.
- Doctors and scientists who know a lot about Ebola are working hard to find ways to prevent or cure the illness.
When you are talking to children about Ebola, know that:
- Media coverage of Ebola can worry or frighten children and adolescents (and adults).
- The news media tend to emphasize the most frightening aspects of an outbreak.
- Ebola does not have to be in your community for media coverage to affect your child.
- You can help young children by restricting exposure to media coverage.
- With all children and adolescents, the most important thing you can do is talk with them about Ebola to help them cope with media coverage.
How MMSD Handles Students with Infectious Diseases
MMSD is in regular communication with staff from Public Health Madison and Dane County in order to ensure the safety of all of our students. Whenever any communicable disease is reported, each case is handled individually according to the needs of the student, family and safety of all staff and students in that school.
More information about Ebola can be found at the following sites:
Wisconsin Department of Health Services: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/diseasepages/ebola.htm
Kids Health: http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/infection/ebola.html
APHA Fact Sheet: http://getreadyforflu.org/facts/EbolaFactsGetReadyAPHA.pdf