Ebola Virus Disease

Description

Ebola virus disease (EVD or Ebola) is a serious viral infection that can cause hemorrhagic fever.

Ebola Virus Disease Surveillance in West Africa

The risk of exposure to Ebola virus disease for travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has decreased significantly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the end to the outbreak in those countries. However, they remain under heightened surveillance because they are still at risk of having other cases of Ebola virus disease in the coming months. The virus can persist in the bodily fluids of survivors, especially in semen, for several months. Some people with the disease may have become infected by having unprotected sex with ebola survivors many weeks after their recovery.

Very Low Risk of Transmission in Québec

No cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported in Québec or Canada.

At present, risk of the Ebola virus being spread by travellers is very low.

Even if a case of Ebola virus disease is confirmed in Québec, the risk of it spreading remains low. Conditions in Québec are less likely to cause significant and prolonged transmission of the virus in the community, as is the case in West Africa (funeral rituals, contacts with bats, sanitary conditions, etc.).

Symptoms

Early symptoms come on suddenly:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Heavy fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

Other symptoms may appear after a few days, such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, external bleeding (e.g., from the nose and gums), and internal bleeding (e.g. bruising, blood in urine or stool). A third of people infected with the Ebola virus may experience bleeding in various parts of their bodies. Such bleeding occurs several days after the onset of symptoms. According to WHO data, Ebola virus disease resulted in the death of approximately 30% to 65% of cases reported in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The number of deaths is closely related to the quality of infrastructure and health system in the countries affected.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease most often appear between 2 to 21 days after infection.

If you have travelled to countries affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak during the last 21 days and have the symptoms described, call Info-Santé at 811. A nurse will evaluate your health and make recommendations based on your condition.

Treatment

Treatment is usually limited to relieving symptoms. There currently is neither recognised treatment nor vaccine against Ebola virus disease. However, experimental treatments and vaccines are being studied.

Transmission

Ebola virus disease is transmissible. An infected person becomes contagious only when he or she develops symptoms. The person becomes increasingly contagious as the disease progresses because the fluids being lost as the symptoms worsen (blood, vomiting, diarrhea, urine) are also infected. It is also possible that the Ebola virus persists in some bodily fluids (e.g., semen) for an undetermined period after surviving the disease. As a result, certain precautionary measures are recommended for people in close contact with survivors of the disease, during sexual contact, for instance.

A person can therefore contract the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual. Contact may occur through mucous membranes for instance (mouth, nose, eyes or genital organs), or a wound on the skin and:

  • The bodily fluids of the person infected with the Ebola virus (blood, semen, vomiting, urine, etc.)
  • A surface or object contaminated with the bodily fluids of a person infected with the Ebola virus

There is no known risk to meet with people coming from affected countries if they do not have symptoms of Ebola virus disease. Similarly, people who have been in contact with individuals coming from these countries pose no risk to those around them.

Protection and Prevention

Even though it is unlikely that the spread of Ebola virus disease occurs in Québec, it is recommended that you follow tips for preventing transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Travel Health Notices

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that people travelling to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone take usual travel health precautions. For the entire list of recommendations, see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s notices This link opens a new window..

Measures Imposed at Canadian Borders

Considering the epidemiologic situation of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, special measures established at Canadian border crossings on November 10, 2014 were lifted on December 11, 2015 for travellers coming from Sierra Leone and Liberia, and on February 5, 2016 for travellers coming from Guinea. These travellers will no longer be subjected to systematic health evaluation upon arrival in Canada and will no longer be required to report to a public health authority. Measures in the Quarantine Act, particularly for symptomatic travellers arriving in Canada, remain applicable.

Last update: April 11, 2016 9:08 AM

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