EVD is a severe illness that often causes death in humans. EVD outbreaks are now occurring in Africa. There have been no confirmed cases of EVD in Canada.
EVD is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids (for example stool, blood, vomit) of a person who is sick with EVD. It can also spread by contact with medical equipment (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus. In areas where EVD is active, it can be spread by contact with or eating infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys).
Initial symptoms are similar to other infectious diseases and include fever, sore throat, chills, headache and muscle pain and weakness. Additional symptoms include rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and hemorrhaging (bleeding from inside and outside the body). Symptoms can begin 2 to 21 days after exposure.
EVD can be spread by an infected person only when that person is sick with fever. Symptoms can appear from 2 to 21 days after exposure. A person becomes more infectious as their symptoms worsen. When a person develops a fever and becomes ill, the level of virus in the body is low. As the virus level increases in the body symptoms will become worse, and the person will become more infectious. It is at this point that EVD can be transmitted to others through body fluids.
EVD is diagnosed based on travel history, contact or suspected contact with an infected person, symptoms and laboratory testing. Final laboratory testing is done at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
The risk to New Brunswickers is extremely low. There have been no confirmed cases in New Brunswick or Canada.
In countries not experiencing a confirmed EVD outbreak there have been cases that were associated with travel to areas with confirmed outbreaks and cases that were acquired locally associated with health care workers providing care for the initial case. This recently occurred in the U.S. and Spain.
Travelers to countries with confirmed outbreaks of EVD should consider whether or not the travel is essential and protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are sick with EVD. The risk of infection may be increased for those who are working in a health care setting caring for patients with EVD infection and travelers who require medical care in affected areas. Most human infections result from direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected patient.
While there is an experimental vaccine, there is currently no licenced vaccine for EVD, nor is there any proven treatment. Patients with this disease are treated for their symptoms. This includes supportive care in an intensive care unit, maintenance of fluids and oxygen and replacement of lost blood. The patient is placed in strict isolation to prevent the infection from spreading.
If you or anyone in your household has recently traveled to an area where there is a confirmed EVD outbreak, or has had contact with an EVD patient, and have symptoms similar to EVD, call Tele-Care 811 immediately.
You can only get EVD by:
- Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD;
- Touching objects, like needles, contaminated with the blood body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD; and
- Eating or handling infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys).
EVD is not spread through the air, water or by mosquitoes.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with all levels of government to prevent the spread of EVD to Canada. These steps include:
- issuing travel health notices to advise Canadians of the risks of travelling to countries that are dealing with EVD outbreaks; and
- enforcing the Quarantine Act at all international points of entry into Canada. This will help to identify any sick travellers arriving and to apply public health measures as appropriate.
Provincial Public Health officials are working closely with partners in government, the Regional Health Authorities, Ambulance NB and counterparts in other Canadian jurisdictions to monitor the situation and to detect and manage any cases in Canada should they occur.
Hospitals have infection control systems and procedures in place that are designed to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide the best care possible for the patient.
The safety of health care workers as well as patients is a primary concern when dealing with EVD. Guidelines and protocols are in place in all New Brunswick hospitals in case a patient presents himself or herself to an emergency department or clinic. Two hospitals, the Dr-Georges-L.- Dumont Hospital in Moncton and the Saint John Regional Hospital in Saint John, have been designated to treat EVD so any suspected cases will be transferred to one of these two locations. In addition, practice drills are being undertaken in hospitals across New Brunswick.
It is important to note that all our front-line workers have training in dealing with infectious diseases and are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and training to protect them from exposures.