Ebola Virus in Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone

he World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa a public health emergency that requires a coordinated international response to stop the spread. The outbreak in Guinea has been ongoing since March 2014 and multiple areas are affected. For the total number of cases and deaths please consult the WHO’s latest situation report.

Ongoing outbreaks are also occurring in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and additional cases in these countries can be expected. There have been a small number of confirmed cases and deaths associated with this outbreak reported in the United States.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. This recommendation is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in this country to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak. The risk of infection is low for most travellers, however the risk may be increased for those who are working in a health care setting or for travellers who require medical care in affected areas as most human infections result from direct contact with body fluids of an infected patient. There may also be difficulties accessing health care services due to increasingly burdened health care system.

The Ministry of Health of Guinea is working with the World Health Organization and other partners to implement measures to control the outbreak and prevent further spread.

Ebola virus disease is a rare, severe and sometimes fatal viral disease. The virus can infect both humans and animals. 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).

If travel cannot be avoided, travellers should avoid all direct contact with a person or corpse infected with the Ebola virus or an animal suspected of having Ebola. Travellers from affected areas should immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.

 

Recommendations To prevent transmission of Ebola

    1. Avoid non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea & Sierra Leone.
    2. If you must travel to Liberia, Guinea & Sierra Leone:
      • Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before your departure. Protect yourself by following the recommendations below.
        • Avoid direct contact with blood and other body 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, including during funeral or burial rituals.
        • Avoid contact with any objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with blood or body fluids.
        • Avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person or a person recovering from Ebola virus disease (abstain from sexual intercourse or use latex condoms for 15 weeks following the start of symptoms).
      • Health care workers are at higher risk and should adhere to strict infection prevention and control measures.
        • Health care workers should practise strict infection control measures including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves) when providing care for suspect or confirmed cases.
        • In addition to routine practices for all patients, precautions for contact, droplet and aerosol generating procedures are recommended.
        • Patients with Ebola should be isolated.
        • Avoid close contact with or handling of animals.
        • Avoid live or dead animals, as both can spread the virus. Animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats may be carriers.
        • Avoid handling of raw or undercooked meat.
      • Practise strict hand washing routines.
      • Avoid hospitals in West Africa where treatment of patients with Ebola is occurring.
      • The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia has toll free lines (dial 4455 in country) for basic Ebola information.
        • Know the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and see a health care provider if they develop during travel.
        • It is important to limit your contact with others as much as possible until you can be assessed by a health care provider.
        • You can become exposed to Ebola by caring or living with a person who is sick with Ebola, contact with Ebola infected blood or body fluids or contact with someone who died of Ebola or an unknown illness.
        • If you believe you were exposed to Ebola virus but are not showing any symptoms of the illness, you should limit your contact with others as much as possible and monitor for symptoms for 21 days.
      • If you develop symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.
      • Check your travel health insurance plan and ensure you are fully covered. Consider contacting your travel health insurance provider to inquire about options for emergency medical evacuation if you become ill.

 

    1. Travelling home to Canada

Before departure:

      • It is important to know that the airports in Ebola affected countries are screening travellers for signs of Ebola or a fever and/or the possibility that they may have been exposed to Ebola virus. Those who have been exposed or are showing symptoms of Ebola will not be allowed to travel on commercial flights as well as on any commercial buses, trains or ships.
      • If you have been exposed but do not have any symptoms, you will not be permitted to take a commercial mode of transportation home, such as a commercial flight. You will need to arrange a private mode of transportation home or stay in West Africa for at least 21 days until authorities decide it is safe for you to travel.

In Canada:

    • Public health measures at Canada’s borders have been strengthened.
    • All travellers coming into Canada with a travel history from the outbreak regions will receive a health assessment from a Quarantine Officer and will be required to report to a local public health authority and self-monitor for up to 21 days.
    • Quarantine Officers will provide travellers with an information kit and additional instructions to follow depending on their level of exposure to Ebola.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Source: Ebola Virus Outbreak

Leave a Comment