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Ebola information for healthcare professionals in BCOct132014

Healthcare professionals in BC

Health care professionals are advised to be vigilant for illness compatible with EVD in travellers returning from outbreak-affected areas. Basic screening questions include 1) travel to an EVD outbreak-affected area and 2) fever. Consider immediate isolation pending diagnostic testing and results. Strict infection control practices (routine and contact precautions) should be implemented for any suspected case. Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, the most infectious being blood, vomitus and feces, or with contaminated fomites. Saliva and tears can also contain the virus but the evidence implicating these and other fluids in transmitting disease is limited and inconclusive. An infected individual is contagious only once symptoms appear. Other illnesses are much more prevalent in this region and should also be considered (e.g. malaria).

All suspect cases of EVD must be reported immediately by physicians to the local Medical Health Officer (MHO) by phone. The MHO will assist in the initial risk assessment and provide advice such as where and how to send the patient for care. The local Medical Microbiologist will contact the BCPHMRL Medical Microbiologist on-call (604-661-7033). The attending, the Medical Microbiologists and the MHO will complete a risk assessment to determine if Ebola testing is required. The BCPHMRL will also discuss with the National Microbiology Lab. The MHO will inform the PHO (250-952-1330) and BCCDC (604-312-9220) who in turn will inform PHAC.

National and provincial guidance

National and provincial guidance documents related to infection control, laboratory work-up, public health management and notifications are posted or can be linked to from the BC Government website. National documents can also be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website. A weekly BC EVD summary will be posted on Fridays on the Doctors’ of BC members’ only website. 

Travel and migration

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) advises Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A traveller returning from an affected area (including health care workers) who had may have had contact with an EVD case should contact their healthcare provider or MHO immediately upon their return and will be asked to monitor their temperature and other symptoms for 21 days following their last contact. The MHO will also provide advice about return to work and self isolation as necessary. 

Information on Ebola Virus Disease, including symptoms, prevention and treatment, is available on the BCCDC and  PHAC websites.