Canadian Man in Critical Condition With Ebola-like Virus After Returning From Africa

Posted on March 24, 2014

Ebola virus transmission electron micrograph from CDC


Update 3-25-14: CBC News reports that the sick man has tested negative for Ebola. He also tested negative for Marburg and Lassa, two other hemorrhagic fevers. He may be suffering from malaria.

BBC News is reporting that a man is in critical condition in a hospital in Saskatoon with Ebola-like symptoms after returning from a trip to Africa. Saskatoon is located in Canada's Saskatchewan province. The man had recently visited Liberia, which shares a border with Guinea. An ebola outbreak in Guinea was confirmed over the weekend.

There are 80 suspected cases with 59 deaths in Guinea. World Health Organization (WHO) officials have also reported potential cases with Ebola symptoms in neighboring Sierra Leone. The latest report from Reuters is that the Ebola strain in Guinea is the Zaire strain, the most lethal strain of the deadly disease.

The exact name of the hospital in Saskatoon has not been revealed. CBC.ca is reporting that hospital staff are taking precautions by wearing "goggles, masks, gowns, gloves and boots." Quarantine measures have not completely been put in place. The news reports says people who may have come into contact with the man's body fluids have been told to "self-isolate and monitor their own health."

Health officials say the man did not fall ill until returning to Canada. CBC.ca says the case is being examined as a suspected case of viral hemorrhagic fever. Lab results have not yet come back. It could still be a disease other than Ebola. The hospitalized man could could also have Lassa fever, another type of viral hemorrhagic fever with a similar incubation period.

CTV News reports that Saskatchewan health officials issued the following statement, "Measures have been taken to isolate the patient to ensure the illness is not transmitted. Public health officials believe the risk to the public is low, and are investigating."

A WHO fact sheet says the incubation period for Ebola varies between 2 to 21 days. It is spread through blood, feces and bodily secretions. Symptoms begin with weakness, muscle pain, headache and soar throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and impaired liver and kidney function. Symptoms can also include internal and external bleeding.

Image: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith