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Saint Mary’s concludes supply drive for Ebola patients

| Friday, November 7, 2014

Saint Mary’s assistant professor of nursing Juliana Mwose, the Sisters of Nefertiti and Belles for Africa concluded their supply drive for the Ebola outbreak Wednesday. They placed bins in Spes Unica Hall to collect supplies to send to African countries that would help prevent the spread of the virus, including hand sanitizers, thermometers, gloves, surface wipes and masks.

Associate professor of nursing Ella Harmeyer said she encourages people to stay calm and approach the Ebola virus in a sensible manner.

“Ebola has been around for over 30 years,” she said. “Currently the numbers in western African, in a small number of countries, have risen significantly. We should not ignore it, but we should also not become hysterical.”

She said it is important to donate items because many affected countries have populations who live in rural areas without access to the resources they need. Due to poor healthcare, any illnesses impoverished people in Africa face have the potential to be life-threatening, Harmeyer said.

“Already, of the seven cases treated in the US, only one person has died,” she said. “That is a much lower level of mortality than the disease has in western Africa.”

She said influenza will be more of a problem for Americans over the next few months or so.

“Real influenza, not the common cold which is sometimes referred to as ‘the flu,’ will cause death in a number of people over the next four months,” she said. “But we ‘know’ the flu, and therefore we don’t panic.”

She said Ebola transmission is not airborne and requires contact with body fluids.

“Sitting next to someone on a plane is not going to transmit this virus,” she said.

Harmeyer said there are only three countries in Africa that are experiencing this epidemic, not the whole continent of 58 countries.

“We tend to fear those things that are new and different,” she said. “We do need to make sensible decisions based on the facts.”

Assistant professor of nursing Juliana Mwose said although Ebola is not a new disease, this happens to be the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since 1976 when it was first discovered.

“This time around, Ebola has claimed more lives and spread across land boarders and abroad,” Mwose said. “I think the best way to deal with this disease right now is to try and contain it and restrict its spread while the scientific world figures out a vaccine.

“We have eradicated many other serious diseases, and I think this is not an exception. But in the meantime, we need to do all we can to get education about the disease and keep it contained. That is why I think the simple method of using hygiene will go along way into fighting the disease.”

She said as a country, it is important for Americans to keep up with news to know what is happening, and also to get the truth about the disease and educate families and communities on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

As a college community, Mwose said the most important contribution students and faculty can have on helping the Ebola crisis is donating basic yet necessary supplies needed to fight the disease.

Sophomore Mairead Zigulich said in the Saint Mary’s community, it may not seem like students are making a major impact just by donating supplies because Ebola is such a huge problem, but every little bit counts.

“If everyone gave just a little, that has the power to make a major difference,” she said.

Students interested in donating money or supplies can contact Diane Fox at dfox@saintmarys.edu

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