Updated October 27:
We are providing updates to you and the campus community on developments related to the Ebola situation in Dallas, as we receive new information. Toward that end, we have informed the University community that two SMU graduate students have told University officials that they were passengers on the October 10 Frontier Airlines flight from Dallas to Cleveland that included a Presbyterian Hospital nurse, Amber Vinson, who later tested positive for the Ebola virus. Neither SMU student was a passenger on the return flight to Dallas, when the nurse was reportedly showing symptoms. On Oct. 24, Vinson and another Presbyterian Hospital nurse, Nina Pham, were declared successfully treated and free of the virus.
Both graduate students are considered at extremely low risk, but out of sensitivity to the University community, both have volunteered to remain off campus at their homes in Dallas for the 21-day monitoring period, going above and beyond CDC requirements or recommendations. Along with other passengers on the flights taken by the nurse, they are being monitored as a precaution.
The two unrelated graduate students, both of whom live alone, are working closely with CDC and county officials. They are monitoring and reporting their temperatures and keeping in daily touch with health officials. They are working with their professors on arrangements to continue their studies, and SMU is providing assistance to facilitate their remaining home-bound.
If any other members of the campus community were on the flights in question between Dallas and Cleveland, they should contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1-800-232-4636 or the SMU Health Center at 214-768-2141 to determine if they should be monitored as a precaution. Information from the CDC about the two flights is posted online here.
At the same time, there is little risk to the University community from this situation, according to medical experts. As a reminder, the disease is developed only after close contact with the bodily fluids of a person who has developed symptoms.
In Dallas, 66 individuals who were being quarantined because of close contact with the first Ebola patient have been cleared to resume their normal activities; none has developed the disease. Most of the individuals still being monitored are health care workers who had contact with the first patient.
In addition, medical experts are urging against overreactions based on fear, rather than science. On Oct. 17, the 7,000-member Dallas County Medical Society said that “keeping all schools open, including schools that have children of parents who are being monitored, presents no risk to students or teachers and sends an important message of allaying fears in the community.”
Please see the University’s health information on the home page at www.smu.edu and related links to external health information sources. We are in close touch with health officials and are monitoring best practices. The SMU site also includes University health and counseling services available to all students.
Parents with questions may call 214-768-7501 or 1-866-768-1012 (toll free).
Parents who have not received updates by email are asked to update their contact information; instructions are provided online here.
We appreciate your patience and support, and we will do our best to keep you informed of any further developments on this matter.