Canada has possible Ebola case: health officials (Update)

A man returning to Canada from Liberia is seriously ill in hospital after experiencing symptoms consistent with the Ebola virus that has killed dozens in Guinea, health officials have said.

The man has been placed in solitary confinement pending the expected results on Tuesday of tests on his condition. His family are in quarantine in Saskatchewan province, the local health ministry said in a statement.

"A diagnosis has not yet been confirmed. Measures have been taken to isolate the patient to ensure the illness is not transmitted," the ministry said.

Public health officials earlier sought to contain people's concerns, saying the risk to the public was low and noting that an investigation into the case's circumstances was under way.

"All we know at this point is that we have a person who is critically ill who travelled from a country where these diseases occur," Denise Werker, joint director of health in Saskatchewan, in western Canada, told reporters.

The casualty had been in Liberia but developed the symptoms after landing in Canada and would not have been contagious when in transit, she said.

"The information that we have now is this person was not ill when he travelled," Werker added. "People are not very contagious in the incubation period. There is also a possibility this person has another disease."

Aid workers and health officials in Guinea are battling to contain west Africa's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, after neighboring Liberia reported its first suspected victims.

At least 59 people are known to have died in Guinea's southern forests but the Liberian cases, if confirmed, would mark the first spread of the highly contagious pathogen into another country.

Werker said the risk of contagion in Canada was low as the disease, one of the world's most virulent, is transmitted to humans from wild animals and between humans by direct contact with blood, feces or sweat, or by sexual contact and the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for the Ebola pathogen, which kills between 25 and 90 percent of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

The tropical virus—described in some health publications as a "molecular shark"—can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea—in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.

It was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1976. The central African country has suffered eight outbreaks.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Six suspected Ebola cases in Liberia, five dead

Mar 24, 2014

Five patients have died in Liberia of suspected Ebola fever, the government said on Monday, as neighbouring Guinea battled an outbreak of the virus which has killed dozens.

Recommended for you

US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

1 hour ago

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, U.S. public health officials are girding for the next health disaster.

Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?

10 hours ago

The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola—a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light.

New bird flu case in Germany

10 hours ago

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Mali announces new Ebola case

Nov 22, 2014

Mali announced Saturday a new case of Ebola in a man who is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in the capital Bamako.

Plague outbreak kills 40 in Madagascar: WHO

Nov 22, 2014

An outbreak of plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar, the World Health Organization said, warning that the disease could spread rapidly in the country's densely populated capital Antananarivo.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.