October 3, 2014

Ebola: Preparedness in Waterloo Region

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues. One travel-related confirmed case has recently been diagnosed in the United States. Region of Waterloo Public Health wishes to takes this opportunity to provide information about Ebola which we hope will be helpful to health care workers and the general public.

Ebola virus disease is a severe disease that causes haemorrhagic fever in humans and animals. Diseases that cause Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers, such as Ebola, are often fatal as they affect the body’s vascular system and can lead to significant internal bleeding and organ failure.

It’s important to emphasize that the Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person;
• Cases are contagious only when they have symptoms
• The virus spreads only through direct contact with infected body fluids

There are no reported cases of Ebola in Canada and the risk to Ontarians remains low.
Public Health Ontario is working with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as other partners on clinical and public health preparedness for potential importations of Ebola, including monitoring and surveillance, support for laboratory testing, and guidelines and resources for infection prevention and control.

Further details about Ebola and preparedness for Ebola from Public Health Ontario can be found here: http://ow.ly/Cds6J

In terms of local readiness all Public Heath Units, including Region of Waterloo Public Health, have been working with Public Health Ontario and the Chief Medical Officer of Health in providing education, information and guidelines for the local health system and health care providers. Guidelines that have been produced and shared include:
• Laboratory sampling procedures
• Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines in health care settings for patients who are suspected or confirmed to have Ebola
• Assessment tools for evaluating travelers from affected areas for health care workers in a variety of settings

Areas of priority
• To rapidly identify cases
• To use proper isolation and monitoring techniques to stop transmission to others
• To ensure the use of proper protection measures to keep health care workers safe

Local hospitals are required to contact Public Health for testing if they suspect a case of Ebola. Public Health is required to follow up on every suspected case.
If there were to be a case here in Waterloo Region, our health care system and infrastructure is such that it would be unlikely to get further than one round of transmission. All contacts would be put under observation for 21 days to ensure none of them developed symptoms. If they did develop symptoms they would be isolated immediately and followed up.

Media contact:

Julie Kalbfleisch, Manager, Information and Communications
Telephone: 519-575-4400 extension 2270

E-mail: JKalbfleisch@regionofwaterloo.ca