Saskatoon man tested for viral hemorrhagic fever after trip to Liberia
Published Monday, March 24, 2014 7:32PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 24, 2014 7:51PM EDT
Saskatchewan health officials say a man who recently travelled to Liberia in Western Africa is “seriously ill” in a Saskatoon hospital with a high fever and other symptoms.
Officials have not yet identified the nature of the illness, but Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker, said at a news conference on Monday that the man is being examined for a suspected case of viral hemorrhagic fever.
“Viral hemorrhagic fever is a generic name for a number of rather exotic diseases that are found in Africa,” said Werker.
These diseases include Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and yellow fever.
Liberia is currently dealing with an outbreak of Ebola after the virus killed more than 59 people in neighbouring Guinea.
"All we know at this point is that we have a person who is critically ill who travelled from a country where these diseases occur," Werkersaid.
Tests have already been sent to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, said Werker. Results are expected Tuesday.
“Measures have been taken to isolate the patient to ensure the illness is not transmitted,” Saskatchewan health officials said in a statement. “Public health officials believe the risk to the public is low, and are investigating.”
The Canadian patient showed no signs of the illness on his return to Saskatchewan, said Werker.
There is no vaccine for the Ebola virus, which leads to severe hemorrhagic fever.
Werker said the virus is not as contagious as some might believe, and that it is transferrable through saliva and other bodily fluids. One of the final symptoms is bleeding from the eyes and mouth.
“People need to be in close contact with blood and bodily fluids so that would be close household contacts of people who are taking care of these individuals,” said Werker. “There is no risk to the general public at all about this.”