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Santé Montréal

Ebola: Questions and Answers

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There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus. However, medical care can keep people alive. People who have the virus must be hospitalized right away to improve their chances of survival and prevent transmission of the virus to other individuals.

Experimental treatments have been tested on a few patients. Researchers are continuing their work to determine whether those treatments are effective and safe.

Ebola virus disease is a rare but severe disease. It is fatal in 40% to 60% of cases. Currently, there are outbreaks of Ebola in one region of Africa. More than 27 000 cases of Ebola have been reported to date. There have been no cases of Ebola in Québec or in Canada. The risk of importing Ebola or of transmitting the virus in Québec is very low. Still, the health network has been monitoring the situation very closely and preparing for such a possibility.

This document provides information on the virus, the risks it poses and preventive measures to put in place to avoid transmission.

Where are there Ebola outbreaks?

There have been outbreaks of the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (all in West Africa) since March 2014.  For more information about these outbreaks, visit these Websites : Section Ebola of the Direction de santé publique de Montréal or World Health Organization.

Is there a risk of the Ebola virus spreading to Québec?

The risk is very low. In Québec, we don’t have the conditions under which the virus has been spreading in Africa. In addition, should a patient be hospitalized with Ebola, Québec's health network will take all the necessary measures to prevent the virus from spreading. Doctors and laboratories have to immediately report to public health authorities anyone with suspected or confirmed Ebola.

What is Montréal's public health department doing?

Although the risk is low, the public health department has been preparing to deal with confirmed case and their contacts. Public health is working closely with its partners, especially healthcare settings that may have to assess or treat Ebola cases.

As a precaution the public health department, in collaboration with quarantine officers, is making plans to monitor travellers returning from areas where there have been EVB outbreaks within the past 21 days.

What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease?

The first symptoms of Ebola are similar to the flu: fever and chills, fatigue and weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and cough. A few days later, there is nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rash, confusion and prolonged bleeding. Symptoms can begin 2 to 21 days after exposure.

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How is Ebola spread?

The virus can spread only from the time a person who is sick develops symptoms. Ebola virus is in the blood, body fluids or secretions (stool, vomit, saliva or sperm) of people who are sick. The infection spreads only through direct contact between the mucous membranes (e.g. nose or moth) or broken skin of a healthy person and the body fluids of someone who is sick.

The people at highest risk of getting the illness are healthcare workers, family members and anyone who has direct contact with a person who is sick or with the body of someone who has died of the illness.

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When to Consult

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Protection and prevention

Can I avoid getting this illness?

Yes. It is recommend to avoid all non-essential travel to any of the countries at risk, as long as the epidemic persists. If you must travel to one of those countries, consult with a travel clinic before you leave and take the following precautions:

  • Avoid all contact with anyone who is sick and with objects contaminated with their body fluids, and with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.
  • Avoid contact with animals that might be infected (bats, monkeys), including blood and raw meat.

How are travellers returning from countries with Ebola outbreaks monitored?

On 10 November 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) put in place measures to identify all travellers who have been to one of the countries where there has been Ebola virus transmission in the past 21 days. These measures are in force at all entry points to the country.

To see a Table on follow-up for all  travellers who have been to countries affected by the Ebola epidemic in the past 21 days go to the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux du Québectypo3/#_msocom_1 website.

There are people who have travelled to West Africa around me (daycare, school, workplace, etc.). Should I be taking any specific precautions?

No. People who don't have symptoms don't present a risk. The public health department monitors people travelling from countries at risk for 21 days

In the event that a person in Québec is diagnosed with Ebola, public health authorities will immediately get in touch with people in this person's environment to inform them about what to do.

If a person has travelled to other African countries only, including those sharing a border with an affected country, the risk is extremely low or even nonexistent. The risk of acquiring the infection in an airport or on a plane is also very low. No precautions are required for people who have travelled to countries with no known transmission.

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Risk factors

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Help and Resources

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People at Risk

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Dernière mise à jour le : 2015.06.01