Ebola screening underway at Lambton College

George Mathewson

Lambton College has implemented screening protocols as the Sarnia campus welcomes about 55 students from Nigeria, a West African country struggling to contain an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

The international students are being screened on arrival for signs of fever, and are checked twice more during the 21-day incubation period of the virus.

The college has also ramped up cleaning in common areas of the campus and increased the number of hand sanitizing stations.

The precautions are needed in the event a student does show signs of infection, said Rob Kardas, executive director of student services.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and community is foremost on our mind. We have a Registered Nurse on staff who has been working tirelessly on our approach to this.”

All schools in Nigeria were ordered closed last week to prevent the spread of the virus. School staff are being trained to handle suspected case of Ebola, which kills more than half those infected.

Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. The virus arrived there in July when an infected man flew from Liberia to Lagos.

The outbreak is more widespread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where about 1,400 people have died. Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. There is no vaccine or cure.

The first of the 50 to 60 Nigerian students began arriving in Sarnia a few weeks ago, and another 20 to 25 are on the way.  None arrived at the college before the protocols were implemented, Kardas said.

The Ebola virus is not airborne and is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

There are no cases of Ebola in Canada and the risk remains very low, health officials say.

Upon arriving in Sarnia, the Nigerian students are checked for fever and given a kit containing a thermometer, as recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Their health is also checked leaving Nigeria and on arrival at Person International Airport in Toronto.

Kardas said the college is working closely with Lambton Public Health and Bluewater Health.

“As low risk as it is, if we did have a student with symptoms we have a plan in place to get that student to hospital, and Bluewater Health is well aware of that potential,” Kardas said.

This school year, Lambton College expects about 3,500 full-time students and 400 to 500 international students, who pay higher tuition fees than Canadian citizens.