The McKinley Health Center in Urbana issued an emergency public safety alert announcing a sudden, widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease on the U of I campus. McKinley physicians first detected a strain of the deadly disease when a student who visited the center said he was experiencing symptoms that were later found to be linked to Ebola.
“At the beginning of the school year, we had a patient visit us who said they were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and minor headaches,” said Dr. Nick Riviera, who was the first to diagnose a student with the disease. “My initial guess was that the student was pregnant, because those are all symptoms experienced during the early stages of pregnancy. However, my assistant pointed out a serious flaw in my diagnosis when she indicated that the student was a male. Although I didn’t rule it out completely, due to the high number of pregnant students who come through our facility, I determined that pregnancy likely wasn’t the case.”
Stumped, Dr. Riviera racked his brains over what could possibly be ailing his patient, delving deep into his medical knowledge base to find the answer. “I conducted a vigorous search of the WebMD website, looking for the diagnosis that I wanted to give out,” recalled Dr. Riviera. “When I read that the patient’s symptoms matched those that carriers of the deadly Ebola virus disease have, I had all the proof I needed to diagnose the student with Ebola.”
Dr. Riviera immediately warned his colleagues at McKinley to look out for symptoms of Ebola in their patients. Once the other medical staff were made aware of the symptoms, which also include fever, sore throat, and muscle pains, the campus medical center started finding more cases of Ebola in students.
“Because Ebola is highly contagious, we figured since one person was already afflicted with the disease that it had already started spreading all over campus,” said Dr. Michaela Quinn, Medical Director at McKinley. “After Dr. Riviera diagnosed the first patient, our medical staff started noticing more and more patients who showed symptoms of Ebola, which obviously means they have the disease.”
Nearly every McKinley visitor since the beginning of the school year has been diagnosed with Ebola, which has amounted to hundreds of U of I students. McKinley staff has worked with the university to organize a quarantine of Ebola patients in hopes of preventing the disease from further spreading on campus. Isolating a large number of Ebola-infected students seemed like a daunting task at first, but eventually the two parties were able to find a solution.
“We ultimately decided to place the patients in the Block-I student section at Memorial Stadium,” said Dr. Quinn. “The stadium is always empty, save for the occasional scrimmage that happens on the field on some Saturdays, but otherwise we don’t have to worry about people coming into the stadium to sit in the stands. This allows us to concentrate on treating the patients in a quiet environment where the general public will not show up and interfere for any reason.”
Despite the grim news of the Ebola outbreak, McKinley offered students a glimmer of hope about the overall health of the student body. “Even though a large percentage of the student body currently has a bout of Ebola, we are happy to announce that pregnancy rates on campus have dropped to zero percent,” said Dr. Quinn. “The correlation of the increase in Ebola and decrease in pregnancy is certainly peculiar, but we’ll take any good news we can get right now. So let’s take a moment to congratulate ourselves on finally beating the scourge that is unplanned pregnancy!”