August 1, 2014
TO: Medical Officers of Health, Ontario health workers and health sector employers
RE: Ebola Virus Disease
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (the ministry) continues to monitor the Ebola virus disease (EVD) situation overseas and has taken measures to ensure the province’s health sector is prepared should a returning traveller from a country where EVD is circulating be suspected of having the disease. As of July 27, 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone stands at 1,323 including 729 deaths.
Public Health Ontario has recently updated their Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) page. Please refer to the links below for information on the clinical features of VHF and the collection of laboratory specimens:
International travel has always been associated with potential risks. These situations highlight the importance of routinely asking about travel and travel activities to obtain valuable information regarding potential exposures to infectious diseases. On July 31, 2014 the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) updated a Travel Health Notice related to travel to the EVD outbreak in West Africa advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
There have been recent media reports of health care workers travelling to affected countries and becoming infected. A recent WHO Risk Assessment notes that "there is a risk for healthcare workers and volunteers, especially if involved in caring for EVD patients. However, if the recommended level of precaution for such settings is implemented, transmission of the disease should be prevented. The risk level can be considered very low to low unless these precautions are not followed, e.g. no personal protective equipment, needle stick injury etc."
The ministry will continue to gather information about this disease situation as it becomes available through PHAC and other international sources, in order to monitor and assess the risk to the people of Ontario. Please use your established communication channels for sharing this information with health care providers in your jurisdiction.
Original Signed by
MD, MHSc, FRCPC
Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health