Speech Article from  Public Health Agency of Canada

Archived - Speaking Notes for Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief Public Health Officer - FIRST CASE OF EBOLA IN THE U.S. - 2014-10-01

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October 1, 2014

Banff, Alberta


Thank you Minister.

I would like to reiterate some of the Minister’s comments. Our thoughts are with the patient and the patient’s family during this difficult time.

This is the first confirmed human case of Ebola Virus in North America in an individual who was in Liberia and travelled from the country to the US.

The individual did not travel through Canada. They travelled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas, via Brussels and were not symptomatic, and therefore not contagious, during their travel to the United States. 

I want to reassure everyone that the risk to Canadians remains very low. The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person like a cold or a flu. It’s spread through direct contact with infected body fluids, not through casual contact.

This past weekend the individual was admitted to a Dallas hospital and isolated based on their symptoms and recent travel history.   

The CDC and Texas state labs confirmed a positive Ebola diagnosis and contact tracing is underway to identify any contacts the individual had in the U.S.

Canada is well prepared with a number of systems in place to identify and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases like Ebola.

Canada has comprehensive procedures in place at our borders to identify sick travellers arriving in Canada. Officers from the Canadian Border Services Agency assess arriving travellers and Quarantine Officers administer and enforce the Quarantine Act, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at every point of entry into Canada.

In addition, the provincial and territorial health authorities have strong infection control systems and procedures in place designed to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide the best care possible for the patient in their hospitals.

To support these systems, the Public Health Agency has developed Ebola Virus infection control guidelines that have been shared with all provinces and territories.

In addition, the Agency’s National Microbiology Laboratory has been working with provincial and territorial labs to increase their capacity to test for the Ebola virus.  This further improves Canada’s ability to identify Ebola quickly so the right steps can be taken to protect the patient and the community.

For Canadians travelling abroad or who have been in a region where an Ebola outbreak has occurred, remember to take these precautions:

  1. Avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, vomit, urine and other body fluids of people with Ebola or unknown illnesses.
  2. Avoid close contact with wild animals and avoid handling wild meat.
  3. Know the symptoms of Ebola and see a health care provider if they develop.

Symptoms can begin 2 to 21 days after exposure.  Initial symptoms include:

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle pain and weakness

Additional symptoms include:

  • rash
  • nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • haemorrhaging (bleeding from inside and outside the body)

If you get a fever and any other symptoms arise during or after travel, seek medical attention immediately and be sure to tell your health care provider that you have travelled to a region where Ebola virus disease was present.

We will continue to work with our partners in Canada, the US and around the world to track and respond appropriately to these illnesses. Our number one priority is to ensure that Canadians are protected.

Thank you, merci.

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