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Ebola

Ebola is a severe illness caused by a virus. Early stages of the disease are characterized by flu-like symptoms, which can progress to bleeding, organ dysfunction and death. Ebola is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or animal. The Ebola virus is not endemic to Canada, and there have never been any cases of Ebola in this country. Outbreaks have been documented in several African countries since the virus’ discovery in 1976.

 

Ebola virus disease (Ebola for short) is a severe, often deadly illness caused by an Ebola virus. It is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or objects that have become contaminated with blood or body fluids of an infected person. Infection causes Ebola virus disease which can include fever, headaches, intense weakness, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to failure of organs in the body and bleeding. Ebola affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees). 

In an Ebola outbreak, the first human case usually occurs through direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth with the blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of an infected animal.

  • The animal reservoir of the Ebola virus has not yet been confirmed, but bats are considered likely.
  • In Africa, Ebola virus has been transmitted through handling and/or ingestion of fruit bats, non-human primates or other animals, like forest duikers (an African antelope), that are infected with Ebola.

Once one person is infected with the virus, Ebola can spread from person-to-person through direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth with:

  • a symptomatic person’s blood or body fluids, for example: blood, semen, saliva, urine, vomit and feces
  • objects that have become contaminated by the blood or body fluids of an infected person, for example: needles and other medical equipment, bed linen or soiled clothing.
  • the body of someone who has died from Ebola

Ebola cannot be spread:

  • In the air
  • Through food or water
  • Via an infected person who does not have symptoms

Signs and symptoms generally appear 8 to 10 days after exposure but can appear anytime from 2 to 21 days after exposure.

Initial signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain

More severe symptoms may appear 3-10 days after initial symptom onset. These include:

  • Severe headache
  • Rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Redness of the eyes

7-12 days after initial symptom onset, infected patients may start to recover, or progress to even more severe symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from gums, nose, injection sites and/or intestines (occurs in 50% of cases)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shock
  • Multi-organ dysfunction
  • Death (occurs in 53-81% of cases)

Those at higher risk of Ebola exposure include:

  • Healthcare workers working with infected patients
  • Family members caring for an infected person
  • Laboratory workers working with the Ebola virus

If you have been in an Ebola affected area or if you have come in direct contact with an Ebola patient, or with objects that have become contaminated by an Ebola patient, you should call your healthcare provider or local Medical Health Officer (MHO)   (http://www.immunizebc.ca). You will be asked to monitor your temperature and symptoms for 21 days following your last contact. If you develop symptoms, call your MHO for direction.

Diagnosis:

Blood samples from patients are tested to diagnose Ebola. 

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for Ebola; patients are provided with supportive care. This can include:

  • Balancing fluids and electrolytes
  • Maintaining vital signs
  • Treating any complicating infections

Experimental drugs and experimental vaccines are being evaluated but are not yet approved for use in humans.

The best way to prevent Ebola infection is to avoid contact with infected people or animals or surfaces soiled with their blood or body fluids.

People in close contact with people with Ebola must take precautions to prevent infection. Precautions include:

  • Wearing protective equipment, for example: gloves, goggles, mask, gown
  • Following infection control procedures such as equipment sterilization, appropriate cleaning and disposal of soiled items

There have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of spreading Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas of Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola.
 
There have never been any cases of Ebola in animals in British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada. The likelihood of a pet being exposed to Ebola virus in Canada is very low. To be exposed, they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person or another animal ill with Ebola. 

In the unlikely event that a pet in BC is exposed to Ebola virus, veterinary and public health practitioners would investigate the situation and recommend actions to minimise risk.

Ebola outbreaks have been documented in several African countries since the virus’ discovery in 1976.

Summary:
The 2014 outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Guinea. It has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries. More information on the outbreak can be found on the WHO website:http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/

Map of cases in West Africa outbreak

Risk to British Columbia:
There have never been any cases of Ebola in British Columbia or anywhere else in Canada. The risk to most travellers is considered low; however BC health care professionals are on the lookout for illnesses compatible with Ebola in recent travellers including in healthcare workers who were involved in the humanitarian response in West Africa.

Travel Precautions:
Precautions are taken at the airports of affected countries to screen outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms. The Canadian government also has put up messages about Ebola for returning travellers at Canadian borders and airports. The federal Quarantine service and Canadian Border Services Agency are screening travellers from outbreak-affected countries for Ebola. Consult the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Travel Health Notice for the Ebola virus for information on travelling to an affected country:http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/notices-avis/notices-avis-eng.php?id=125

Information for travellers returning from Africa


 

SOURCE: Ebola ( )
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