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While Ebola could come to Canada, in B.C. we’re prepared to deal with it

VANCOUVER – More than 3,000 people have died and there are more than 7,000 reported cases of Ebola in four west African countries.

On Tuesday the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in North America. An unidentified patient had travelled to Dallas from Liberia, becoming sick four days after he entered the U.S.

Canadian officials say they would not be surprised to eventually see a case in our country but people shouldn’t worry because Canada has numerous plans in place to prevent an outbreak.

“I think that across the country every province and territory is very prepared to manage an Ebola case if one arrives in Canada, which is a probability I would think, yes,” said Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C. public health officer.

“As the cases continue to go on increasing in West Africa, there’s a greater chance it will move from the poorer regions or rural regions into the middle classes, the people who are travelling, so there is a possibility somebody could be infected with Ebola, could be symptom-free during their flight, could land and a few days later could develop symptoms and then a few days after that could be presenting in an emergency room.”

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Kendall says everyone across Canada is prepared for it.

“Travellers coming in to the country from West Africa are given information and advice, and are screened for symptoms by the CBSA,” he says. “Physicians in the community have been given advice and told what to look for, who to call and what to do.”

“The first responders have been alerted to it and know how to appropriately respond to bring a patient in by ambulance if necessary, and emergency rooms have all been given the information and infection control and infectious disease specialists are all alert,” adds Kendall.

Dr. Elani Galanis from the BC Centre for Disease Control says they are working to find out as much as possible about the patient diagnosed in the U.S.

“It’s a good reminder for us in B.C. and in Canada to remain aware and prepared for such an eventually, although the likelihood is very low that a person infected with Ebola would appear in Canada it is very possible,” she says.

“The outbreak in Ebola is the largest outbreak ever recorded and it is not under control yet and so it is possible that people who travel to that area, or people who travel out of that area, and come back to Canada may be infected.”

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