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Stanford travelers advised to avoid West Africa

Stanford’s health, safety and international affairs offices have been closely monitoring the outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa and have issued strong recommendations that travelers to the region return home or refrain from embarking on Stanford-related trips to the area.

While Ebola is not easily contracted or spread, the outbreak has created an unstable situation for the medical and transportation infrastructure in the region, including in countries adjacent to outbreak areas. As a result, Stanford's Infection Control Working Group and the Office of International Affairs are strongly recommending that members of the Stanford community avoid nonessential, Stanford-related travel to the West Africa region until the Ebola outbreak is controlled.

"We want to be certain that, should conditions worsen in the near future, travelers will have transportation home, or if they find themselves in need of emergency health care for any reason, that there will be adequate medical support," said Larry Gibbs, associate vice provost for Environmental Health and Safety. "These are precautions Stanford is taking to assure the safety of any travelers, because travel conditions could change very suddenly if Ebola cases occur within a country. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our guidance as appropriate."

A planned summer seminar in Ghana through the Bing Overseas Study Program has been cancelled. The Haas Center for Public Service is recalling students early who were serving as interns in West African countries, including Ghana and Senegal. And the university is in the process of contacting a handful of other students known to be in the region for Stanford-related study or research.

All international travelers are urged to register their travel plans with the Office of International Affairs regardless of where in the world they plan to travel. This would allow the university to provide notification and support in the event of any change in travel conditions and to facilitate your access to emergency help, should you need it. For example, earlier this summer the university advised against Stanford-related travel to Israel due to the escalating conflict in Gaza and the temporary suspension of U.S. flights to Tel Aviv.

The university is also developing protocols for students, faculty and staff returning from travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, asking them to contact the appropriate on-campus health center for health monitoring as a precaution.

Stanford enrolls 25 to 30 students each year from West African countries and will be working with those individual students upon their return to campus this fall.

Stanford will continue to monitor information from individuals on the ground in the West Africa region, as well as from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. State Department and other international information. 

The campus community is encouraged to review the Guidelines for Travel to Western African countries.