Questions and Answers
Ebola virus disease, also known as Ebola, is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. The first Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
Based on evidence and the nature of other similar viruses, researchers believe that Ebola virus disease is animal-borne (zoonotic) and that bats are the most likely reservoir.
No cases of Ebola have been identified in Canada, and the risk to Ontarians remains very low.
Ebola can only be spread to others after symptoms begin and does not spread easily from person to person. The virus is spread through direct contact with:
Ebola cannot spread through the air or through food or water.
Ebola is a severe illness that starts with the sudden onset of fever, usually with headache, malaise and myalgia. Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting) are common. Additional symptoms may occur (e.g., sore throat, chest pain, cough, rash, conjunctivitis). Hemorrhagic findings occur in 50% of cases. The case fatality rate ranges from 50% to 90%.
At this time there is no vaccine approved by Health Canada or specific treatment (e.g., antiviral drug) available for Ebola.
Symptoms of Ebola and complications are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.
Those at higher risk of Ebola exposure include:
International travel has always been associated with potential risks. The Ebola situation in certain West African countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) highlights how important it is for health workers to routinely ask their patients about travel and travel-related activities to obtain valuable information regarding potential exposures to infectious diseases.
On July 31, 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada updated a Travel Health Notice (available at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/notices-avis/notices-avis-eng.php?id=125) related to travel to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- What is Ebola?
- How is Ebola spread?
- a sick person's blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen);
- objects (e.g., needles) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids; or
- infected animals (bats, monkeys, gorillas, pigs, etc.)
- What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola?
- How is Ebola treated?
- Providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
- Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
- Treating other infections if they occur
- Who is at risk for exposure to Ebola?
- Healthcare workers working with infected patients
- Family members caring for an infected person
- Laboratory workers working with the Ebola virus
- What do patients who think they have Ebola do? What hospital do I call and how to do I get there?
Patients who are in need of urgent medical attention should present at their nearest emergency room department and indicate their symptoms, travel history and possible exposure immediately so they can be triaged appropriately.
- How likely is it that a patient could come here to Ontario?
- What hospitals have been designated as testing hospital for Ebola patients?
- Hamilton Health Sciences
- Health Sciences North
- Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
- Kingston General Hospital
- St. Michael's Hospital
- Sunnybrook Hospital
- Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (paediatric)
- What hospitals have been designated as treatment hospitals for a confirmed Ebola patient?
- Hospital for Sick Children (paediatric)
- London Health Sciences Centre
- The Ottawa Hospital
- University Health Network's Toronto Western Hospital (repatriation)