Ebola advice

The risk of Ebola being transmitted due to students, or staff, arriving from the currently affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remains extremely low.

Staff and students who have travelled from affected countries, and who are free of symptoms, are not infectious and therefore will have no restrictions placed on their educational or normal activities.

Please be assured the University takes the welfare of all its students and staff very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation.


Should anyone at the University experience symptoms of fever, diarrhoea, coughing and vomiting they should seek medical attention as appropriate. If these symptoms are experienced by anyone who has returned to the UK from any of the affected countries in the last 21 days, the person should be immediately isolated from others and urgent medical advice should be sought by calling an ambulance on 999. Public Health England guidance can be found online, which sets out the levels of risk and advice on how to deal with anyone who is symptomatic.

In the unlikely event that an issue does arise an incident management team will be formed and relevant advice circulated to staff and students. This will be done in partnership with public health agencies.

People can become infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person. Other FAQs are available on the NHS website which you may find useful.

Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people, either by directly touching the victim's body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood.

Other ways people can catch Ebola are:

  • touching the soiled clothing of an infected person, then touching their mouth;
  • having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the virus is present in semen for up to seven weeks after the infected person has recovered);
  • handling unsterilised needles or medical equipment that were used in the care of the infected person.

A person is infectious as long as their blood, urine, stools or secretions contain the virus.

The virus is not, for example, as infectious as diseases like the flu, as airborne transmission is much less likely. You'd need to have close contact with the source of infection to be at risk.

Ebola virus disease is generally not spread through routine social contact.

For more information you can read the Myth Buster on the GOV.UK website. 

No student or member of staff should accept incidences of prejudice or harassment and if you feel you are being targeted as a result of coming from an affected area you should report this immediately to Liz Murphy, Head of Student Support Services – email e.murphy@exeter.ac.uk, who will ensure you are appropriately supported.

As there are currently severe pressures on the infrastructures of affected countries, the Foreign Office is advising that travel to these countries should only be undertaken by those with urgent need. If you are planning to visit an affected country or have friends or relatives from an affected country coming to stay with you, please let the University know by emailing Liz Murphy, Head of Student Support Services – e.murphy@exeter.ac.uk

Following consultation with the University’s travel insurance provider, we have taken the decision to suspend all work-related travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

The University has taken this decision as it has been advised that it may not be possible for insurers to:

  • provide medical assistance to travellers in these affected countries as health resources are already stretched and focused on treating patients with Ebola
  • evacuate any individuals who become unwell.

This advice also relates to field trips to these affected countries.

Anyone wishing to undertake work-related travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should in the first instance contact the Insurance Office stating the reason for the trip, number of travellers and dates for consideration.

Please contact Liz Murphy, Head of Student Support Services – email e.murphy@exeter.ac.uk if you have any further questions.

As a University, we will remain in close contact with government officials and public health agencies to ensure we can continue to advise and reassure you.