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Possible exposure to Ebola at lab

Winnipeg worker in self-isolation after tear in protective suit found

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>An employee at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.</p>

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

An employee at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2016 (1129 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A worker who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus at a federal lab in Winnipeg is in isolation, at home, watching and waiting for any symptoms of the potentially deadly disease.

The employee at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease — located at the national microbiology lab on Arlington Street — was working with infected pigs that were experimentally exposed to Ebola virus at its Level 4 lab Monday.

A split in the seam of the employee’s protective suit was noticed during decontamination procedures before leaving the lab, Canadian Food Inspection Agency director Dr. John Copps said Tuesday.

The risk to the employee and the public is considered low, Copps told a news conference. The employee met with a doctor and was given advice about care, he said.

"Our employees are well aware of the risks and how to control them. All proper emergency procedures were followed, and the risks to the employee, co-workers and the community are considered to be low," Copps said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency worker was administered an Ebola vaccine used in clinical trials in Africa as a post-exposure precaution, the agency said.

The employee is in "self-isolation" and will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days by local health officials.

Ebola symptoms — including rash, chills, fever, headache, sore throat, muscle pain and weakness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and hemorrhaging (bleeding from inside and outside the body) — can begin two to 21 days after exposure, the Public Health Agency of Canada says on its website.

There is no specific licensed treatment for Ebola. Patients are treated for their symptoms, the agency says.Health Sciences Centre is the only specially equipped hospital in Manitoba designated to treat confirmed cases of the disease.

Some people who get Ebola are able to recover, but up to 90 per cent of them die, the agency says.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people. The sooner an infected person gets treatment, the better their chances of recovery. Treatment includes supporting blood pressure and oxygen delivery, ensuring proper fluid and electrolyte levels (necessary minerals for the body) and strict isolation in an intensive care unit to prevent the disease from spreading to others.

The national lab works in the prevention, detection, control and reporting of foreign animal diseases and emerging diseases. Its research includes work on avian influenza, foot and mouth disease and classical swine fever.

In 2015, a study reported in the Lancet said the lab had developed a vaccine protecting 100 per cent of the people who received it against the Ebola virus.

"The health and safety of our employees is a top priority," the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a prepared statement Tuesday. "All employees that work with infectious diseases are highly qualified individuals that have received extensive training on the proper handling of organisms and on the appropriate emergency procedures to be used should an incident occur," is said.

The agency said it’s committed to informing its employees, Winnipeg residents and the public at large "of any important developments."

The worker — whose gender was not identified — is in self-isolation, which means they’re to avoid public transportation and public places such as the workplace, shopping malls, medical clinics, grocery stores, funerals and religious congregations, the Public Health Agency of Canada says.

They’re to avoid physical contact with others, and living with other people, including family members or roommates, is not permitted for the duration, it says.

— with files from The Canadian Press

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 8:12 AM CST: Edited

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