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Ebola guidance issued for Canadian MDs

The Ebola virus outbreak in Africa has prompted the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to alert physicians to be vigilant in reporting and investigating patients with symptoms of the disease.

As of midweek, the World Health Organization had reported 672 deaths from the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Health professionals in Canada are urged to immediately report all suspected or probable cases of Ebola to the Public Health Agency of Canada through its 24-hour emergency line: 1-866-262-8433 and not to undertake any laboratory testing on a patient suspected of having an Ebola infection.

Despite worldwide concern and publicity about the outbreak, Dr. Gregory Taylor, deputy chief public health officer for PHAC has issued a statement reassuring Canadians that their risk from the virus “is very low.”

Taylor stated that unlike the flu, the Ebola virus itself does not spread easily from person to person and is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, not through casual contact.

“We also have a number of systems in place in Canada to identify and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases like Ebola, as well as provide ill patients with the best possible care,” he said.

Taylor noted that Canada is the second largest contributor to Ebola response efforts having committed $1.41 million and providing PHAC experts to the World Health Organization to assist in the on-the-ground response.

Any health care professionals or other Canadian responders coming back from areas in which the Ebola outbreak is active are asked monitor themselves for symptoms for 21 days. If any symptoms occur, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.