Ebola outbreak in West Africa is cause for travel advisory

ebolaThe Ministry of Health of Guinea continues to report on the evolving outbreak of Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever). Confirmed cases have been reported in Guinea in the districts of Dabola, Djingaraye, Guékédou, Macenta, Kissidougou, and Conakry. Confirmed cases in the neighbouring country of Liberia have also been reported. Additional cases are expected.

In Mali, all suspected cases have tested negative for Ebola virus and no new suspected cases have been reported.

In Sierra Leone 11 of 12 suspected cases  have tested negative for Ebola virus.

The Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to implement measures to control the outbreak and prevent further spread. The WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Guinea, Liberia, Mali or Sierra Leone in relation to this outbreak.

Ebola virus disease is a rare and severe viral disease. The virus can infect both humans and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas, etc.). When infected, people can get very sick, with fever, intense weakness, headache, sore throat and pains, and may bleed from different parts of the body (i.e., haemorrhage).

The risk of infection is low for most travellers, although the risk may increase for those who are working in a health care setting since most human infections result from direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends travellers avoid all direct contact with a person or corpse infected with the Ebola virus. Also, avoid contact with or handling an animal suspected of having Ebola. Travellers should immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.

Recommendations:

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you travel.

  1. Avoid direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
    • Avoid direct contact with bodies of people who died of Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
    • Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person or a person recovering from Ebola virus disease.
    • Avoid contact with any objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with blood or bodily fluids.
    • Health care workers should practise strict infection control measures including the use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves).
  2. Avoid close contact with or handling of wild animals.
    • The following animals may be carriers: chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats.
    • Remember, both live and dead animals can spread the virus.
    • Avoid handling wild meat.
  3. Know the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and see a health care provider if they develop.
    • Seek medical attention immediately, if a fever and any other symptoms arise during or after travel.
    • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider that you have travelled to a region where Ebola virus disease was present.
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