A hospital in Brampton, Ontario in Canada has instituted heightened infection-control procedures after a patient who had recently visited Nigeria was brought in with fever and flu-like symptoms.
Nigeria is one of the countries affected by the largest and longest ever recorded Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed at least 961 people since March, according to the World Health Organization.
CBC news Toronto reports that the patient has been isolated at William Osler Health System’s Brampton Civic Hospital, which Peel Region health officials stress is purely precautionary given the patient’s travel history.
Dr. Eileen de Villa with Peel Public Health said the patient is showing a fever and other flu-like symptoms but cautioned there has been no diagnosis yet.
"I am aware that we are currently testing a patient who recently travelled from West Africa. Initial signs and symptoms of Ebola are similar to many more common diseases," Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins said in a release Friday night.
"One such disease relevant to African travel is malaria. There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ontario."
Hoskins said he is in close contact with the chief medical officer of health and they are closely managing the situation.
When two American aid workers who contracted the virus in Liberia were brought to Atlanta for treatment, it fuelled concerns about the possibility of Ebola arriving in North America. But public health officials have been reassuring Canadians that unlike viruses like SARS or even the flu, Ebola doesn't spread easily through casual contact or the air. One can only become infected though direct contact with infected bodily fluids.
Even if a case were to come to Toronto or other Canadian cities, the risk of it spreading remains low in part due to the method by which it's passed on and also because of Canada's preparedness, according to Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Code.