Ebola affects university programs

August 15, 2014

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues, some American universities have suspended programs that involve students travelling to affected areas such as Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and New York University have both cancelled fall programs, but hope to continue with winter/spring programs. Harvard University is cautioning anyone who has travelled to affected areas recently against returning to campus without first seeking medical advice. Researchers affiliated with the University of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg have been working on an Ebola vaccine and treatment since 2001. In 2005, researchers made a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine that showed success with monkeys. On Monday, the World Health Organization ruled that it was ethical to deploy an untested vaccine given the unprecedented scope of the outbreak. Medical microbiology professor Keith Fowke noted that Ebola is hard to study, as it is so highly infectious. “As with all viruses, Ebola mutates, so developing a vaccine is difficult. It’s hard to keep pace with a changing virus,” he said. USA Today | uManitoba News | Toronto Star