Ottawa patient tests negative for Ebola; DND member still in isolation
Josh Elliott and Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, October 13, 2014 10:55AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 13, 2014 10:23PM EDT
A patient who was being held in isolation at the Ottawa Hospital has tested negative for Ebola.
Ottawa Public Health confirmed the test results in a tweet Monday night, noting that isolation precautions at the hospital are no longer required.
The Ottawa patient was one of two patients in Ontario waiting for Ebola test results.
A member of the Canadian military who was recently in Sierra Leone is in isolation at a Belleville, Ont., hospital with Ebola-like symptoms, but health officials say it’s unlikely the patient will test positive for the virus.
The patient arrived at the hospital around 3 a.m. Monday with fever and diarrhea and was placed in isolation within five minutes, Dr. Dick Zoutman, chief of staff at Quinte Health Care in Belleville, told reporters on Monday.
Health authorities did not release any personal information about the patient, but a Department of National Defence spokesperson confirmed that a DND member has been admitted to the Belleville hospital “as a precaution.”
DND did not say what type of role, if any, the military member had in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Richard Schabas, the medical officer of health for Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, which include Belleville, said the patient is at an “extremely low” risk of being infected with the Ebola virus, but the hospital is taking all the necessary precautions.
The patient’s blood has been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, and results are expected by Monday evening or Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Canada is tightening its airport screening measures and sending an experimental Canadian Ebola vaccine to the U.S. for human trials.
The experimental vaccine will be tested on 40 healthy volunteers at a laboratory in Maryland, with results expected in December.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the vaccine contains no live Ebola, and test subjects will not be at risk of contracting the virus.
"The Canadian vaccine provides great hope and promise, because it is shown to be 100 per cent effective in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tested on animals," Ambrose told reporters on Monday.
Ambrose stressed that the risk of Canada facing an outbreak of Ebola remains very low.
Ambrose said the global community has come together to accelerate the development of the Canadian vaccine, which has been in development for about 10 years at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
"This process is moving at unprecedented speed," she said.
Phase one of the trials will focus on determining the proper dosage and any possible side effects of the vaccine.
Canada has donated 20 vials of the vaccine for the trials.
How it works
The Ebola vaccine works much like an influenza vaccine, chief public health officer Gregory Taylor said at the news conference Monday, explaining that it contains dead parts of the virus, combined with another virus typically found in animals.
"During these clinical trials, no one will be at risk of getting Ebola," Taylor said. "The vaccine does not contain any live Ebola virus."
Taylor said the vaccine trains the body to kill the real virus, by triggering the immune system to react, attack the virus, and build up antibodies.
"We're using the virus to avoid getting sick," Taylor said.
Beyond prevention, the vaccine has also been effective at stopping Ebola immediately after exposure, he added.
Minister Ambrose also announced new mandatory screening measures for all passengers flying into Canada from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. Effective immediately, all arrivals will be referred to a quarantine officer for a mandatory health assessment.
Ambrose said Canada has contributed more than $34 million to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including shipments of personal protective equipment. Canada has also deployed two mobile labs to quickly diagnose potential cases of infection there.
Taylor said Canadian doctors are reviewing their own personal safety protocols, after health workers in Texas and Spain became infected while treating patients with Ebola.
Other Ebola-related developments Monday:
- The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says it's interviewing all healthcare workers who had contact with the Liberian Ebola patient who died in Dallas, after a nurse treating the patient contracted Ebola herself. The CDC is now checking with other healthcare workers to see if they, too, may have contracted the virus
- The head of the World Health Organization called the Ebola outbreak "the most severe, acute health emergency on modern times," and noted that 90 per cent of the outbreak’s global economic impact has been caused by irrational fear and disorganized efforts to avoid infection
- Another healthcare worker infected by contact with a patient in Spain remains in serious but stable condition, Spanish officials said
- In Ebola-stricken Liberia, the country's government largely averted a healthcare worker strike that would have severely hampered efforts to control the outbreak, after nurses and other healthcare workers – though not doctors – were asking to receive the Ebola hazard pay they had been promised by the government
- The Ebola outbreak has been devastating for the economies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the World Bank has now dramatically cut its growth expectations