Watch above: What’s the risk of Ebola in Saskatoon?
SASKATOON – With a confirmed case of Ebola diagnosed in North America leading to the death of a man, concerns are being raised about the disease and whether or not to be prepared for the viral infection.
However, the head of VIDO, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization based in Saskatoon, says not to panic.
“There’s always a risk, and we saw it 11 years ago with SARS. Any virus can be transferred from continent to continent within 24-hours through air travel,” said Dr. Andrew Potter.
“That’s what happened with the States and Texas and it could happen in Canada, however the risk is extremely low.”
FULL COVERAGE: Ebola Outbreak
Potter also stressed that leadership and preparation is key to ensure Canada is ready in case of an Ebola diagnosis in the country.
“Collectively as a country and as a global community we must ensure we have the infrastructure for these sorts of things,” said Potter.
“Ebola has been around since 1976 so it’s no surprise but we wait to get vaccines ready until the last minute. We’re reactive rather than proactive in our approach and I think somebody needs to take a leadership position to ensure things are dealt with when they occur.”
Ebola is transmitted by contact with contaminated bodily fluids. Yesterday morning, Thomas Eric Duncan became the first Ebola death in the United States. He died at a Texas hospital after arriving from Liberia on Sept. 20.
Canada has taken proactive steps to ensure citizens have options in case of similar cases.
“Canada has taken a leadership position. The Public Health Agency of Canada has done some wonderful work in Winnipeg on Ebola virus but I think we need some international leadership as well,” said Potter.
Read more: Canada stepping up Ebola screening
“I worry more about when I’m going to get my flu shot next week rather than the Ebola virus.
“It’s a question of risk.”