Ontario hospital investigating patient with flu-like symptoms
Published Friday, August 8, 2014 7:07PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 8, 2014 11:23PM EDT
A patient at a hospital near Toronto has been placed in isolation as a precautionary measure after he came down with a fever and other flu-like symptoms following a recent trip to a country dealing with the Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, an associate medical officer of health with Peel Region, said that the patient has a history of travelling to Nigeria. He is being kept in isolation at the Brampton Civic Hospital.
She stressed that there has been no diagnosis at this time and health officials are taking precautionary measures, given that the WHO declared Ebola an international health emergency.
De Villa also says the hospital has taken every necessary control measure to protect those working and staying at the facility.
Public health officials in Brampton said the patient was admitted to hospital on Friday. They say there are several infectious diseases that could be the cause of the patient's symptoms.
In a statement issued late Friday night, the hospital said it "sees and treats several patients a week with similar symptoms" due to it's location near Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
CTV's medical health specialist Avis Favaro said the patient's blood samples have been likely sent to a lab in Winnipeg to be tested. Results are expected in the next 48 hours. In the meantime, doctors at the hospital will be working to eliminate other possible causes of the patient’s symptoms.
Ontario's Minister of Health and Long Term Care Eric Hoskins said in a statement issued Friday night that he is monitoring the situation.
"From the beginning of the outbreak in West Africa, we have taken steps to ensure our health system is prepared should a returning traveler be suspected of having the disease," he said.
"With the experience and lessons learned from the SARS epidemic, our hospitals have sophisticated infection control systems and procedures to protect health providers, patients, and all Ontarians, and are fully equipped to deal with any potential cases of Ebola."
‘The new normal’
Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious disease specialist, said diseases such as malaria and typhoid can mimic the symptoms of Ebola.
He says that this case in Brampton highlights what will likely be the "new normal" for many hospitals in developed countries as concern over the disease grows.
"This is going to be the new normal. We're going to constantly hear about patients who are being put in isolation, being managed in a precautionary fashion until we can exclude the Ebola virus," Rau told CTV News Channel on Friday.
In the United States, there have dozens of false alarms about Ebola, but no confirmed cases of the disease within the country. An America doctor and an aid worker who were both infected while caring for patients in Liberia are currently being treated in an Atlanta hospital.
Rau said that should there be an infectious disease outbreak in Canada, he believes that health officials are prepared.
"Canada wide, we are prepared. There's no question that the SARS experience…prepared us to be on the lookout for people with symptoms who come from certain situations or countries," he said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has previously issued a statement saying the risk of Ebola spreading to Canada is very low. It is, however, advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Rau said he is mainly concerned about the continued spread of the disease in those countries, where tracking is more difficult.
"I'm really more worried about this from the West African perspective than from the developed country perspective because we have so many safeguards in place that prevent the spread of infectious diseases," he said.
Nigeria declares state of emergency
On Friday, Nigeria’s president declared a state of emergency over the virus after the country's health ministry announced two more confirmed cases.
The total confirmed cases in the African country has now risen to nine and includes a nurse and a Liberian-American man who died in Lagos, one of the most populated cities in Nigeria.
So far, the latest Ebola outbreak has killed 961 people, according to the UN. It is considered the largest and longest ever recorded for the disease, which has a death rate of approximately 50 per cent.
The latest outbreak emerged in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Ebola was first identified in 1976. There have been more than 20 outbreak in central and eastern Africa. The virus causes flu-like symptoms including fever, vomiting, muscle pain and bleeding. It is spread by direct contact of bodily fluids such as blood, urine and saliva.