Description

Ebola virus disease (EVD or Ebola) is a serious viral infection that can cause hemorrhagic fever.

Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that is still ongoing.

The WHO and its partners continue to work with the Government of the DRC to improve the country’s ability to prevent cases, recognize them quickly, treat them and reduce the risk of transmission, in particular through the identification, suveillance and vaccination of contact cases and safe burial procedures.

Very Low Risk of Transmission in Québec

No cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported in Québec or Canada.

At present, risk of the Ebola virus being introduced by travellers is very low owing to the low number of Canadians in the affected region and the relatively low number of travellers between the DRC and Canada.

Even if a case of Ebola virus disease is confirmed in Québec, the risk of it spreading remains very low. Conditions in Québec are less likely to cause transmission of the virus in the community, as is the case in Africa (funeral rituals, contacts with bats, sanitary conditions, etc.).

Symptoms

Early symptoms come on suddenly:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Heavy fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

Other symptoms may appear after a few days, such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, external bleeding (e.g., from the nose and gums), and internal bleeding (e.g. bruising, blood in urine or stool). A third of people infected with the Ebola virus may experience bleeding in various parts of their bodies. Such bleeding occurs several days after the onset of symptoms. The percentage of deaths associated with the disease is closely related to the quality of infrastructure and health system in the countries affected.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease most often appear between 2 to 21 days after infection.

If you have travelled to an area affected by the EVD during the last 21 days and have the symptoms described, call Info-Santé at 811. A nurse will evaluate your health and make recommendations based on your condition.

Treatment

Treatment consists mainly of relieving symptoms. Experimental treatments and vaccines are being developed and may be used in specific situations.

Transmission

Ebola virus disease is transmissible. An infected person becomes contagious only when he or she develops symptoms. The person becomes increasingly contagious as the disease progresses because the fluids being lost as the symptoms worsen (blood, vomiting, diarrhea, urine) are also infected. It is also possible that the Ebola virus persists in some bodily fluids (e.g., semen) for an undetermined period after surviving the disease. As a result, certain precautionary measures are recommended for people in close contact with survivors of the disease, during sexual contact, for instance.

A person can therefore contract the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual. Contact may occur through mucous membranes for instance (mouth, nose, eyes or genital organs), or a wound on the skin and:

  • The bodily fluids of the person infected with the Ebola virus (blood, semen, vomiting, urine, etc.)
  • A surface or object contaminated with the bodily fluids of a person infected with the Ebola virus

There is no known risk to meet with people coming from affected countries if they do not have symptoms of Ebola virus disease. Similarly, people who have been in contact with individuals coming from a country where there is an outbreak of EVD pose no risk to those around them.

Protection and Prevention

Even though it is unlikely that the spread of Ebola virus disease occurs in Québec, it is recommended that you follow tips for preventing transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Vaccination

A vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV), developed by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, is waiting to be licensed by Canadian regulatory authorities. Studies show that the vaccine is very effective in preventing Ebola virus infection when used before and immediately after exposure to the virus.

On May 21, 2018, the Governement of the DRC, with the support of WHO, Doctors without Borders and other international partners, initiated a vaccination campaign with the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine to control the spread of the disease in high-risk regions. The vaccine is offered to people exposed to confirmed cases and to their contacts.

Travel Health Notices

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that people travelling to Democratic Republic of Congo take usual travel health precautions. For the entire list of recommendations, see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s notices This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Measures Imposed at Canadian Borders

Considering the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only the usual measures in the Quarantine Act, particularly for symptomatic travellers arriving in Canada, are applied at present.