Ebola Update

Canadians don't need to worry about it coming to our country, says Northern Health official

  • Dec. 8, 2014 5:00 p.m.

The entire world has been infatuated with the recent outbreak of Ebola as the disease continues to run a race of destruction throughout African countries.

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak is documented as the largest in history, effecting multiple countries. The possibility of it coming to Canada is there but Canadians don’t need to worry about an outbreak of Ebola, said Dr. Sandra Allison, Chief Medical Officer at Northern Health.

“The number of returning travellers is low, less than one a week. Boarder crossings have strict screenings in place to identify people returning to Canada from effective areas and if people have symptoms we can provide them adequate care,” said Dr. Sandra Allison.

Ebola is one of the world’s most deadliest diseases and kills roughly 90 per cent of all who catch the highly infectious virus. It was first noticed in 1976 but today it runs rampant in West African countries, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia (a span reaching more land than the North American continent).

It spreads to humans through hunting wild animals for food (bush meat) such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines.

Although there have not been any reported cases in Canada, two nurses from Dallas, Texas contracted the disease roughly two months ago from a gentlemen returning from Liberia to the United States.

“We have a privilege in our well developed country to make these things fail safe. In Africa they don’t have access to the protection or treatment which could be as simple as hydration,” said Dr. Sandra Allison, who estimates we may see at least one or two imported cases just like other northern countries have. “But all the pieces will be in place to manage that and I don’t anticipate it happening right away but we will be ready.”

People continue to go over seas to help people in need even though Health Canada has sent out a health advisory to not travel to West Africa.

Poverty, overcrowding, and lack of health care infrastructure in some of these countries is as little as one doctor per 100,000 patients, compared to countries with good health infrastructure at one doctor to every 1,000 or 2,000 patients.

“You can see how that would lead people to getting sick. They simply don’t have the gowns and masks to protect themselves from contracting illness,” said Dr. Sandra Allison.

So far there are no reported cases in Canada and health officials continue to work in countries effected with hopes to rid the disease in it’s entirety.


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