Ebola Virus Disease

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has updated its Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Preparedness Plan.  HSN has been designated an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) testing hospital in northeastern Ontario to test suspect cases of EVD.  At this time, there are no confirmed cases of EVD in Ontario or Canada. Infection control procedures at HSN are designed to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers and provide the best care of our patients. 

How HSN is Preparing

HSN is taking all possible measures to ensure the health and safety of its patients, visitors, and staff. HSN has developed an Ebola Preparedness Plan, based on best evidence practices of Public Health Ontario and Public Health Agency of Canada. Some of the steps we are taking include:

  • We are screening all patients who come to the ED or prior to admission, asking about their travel history and symptoms. If these are consistent with possible Ebola exposure, these patients are isolated immediately.
  • Enhanced measures are in place for treating any suspect Ebola patients, including enhanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and strict protocols limiting which care providers treat the patients and how they treat the patients, as well as how to handle any medical equipment or waste.
  • Signage is posted at our ED entrance informing all people who arrive about the factors that could indicate potential Ebola exposure. If patients meet the criteria, they are being asked to contact ED staff immediately.
  • Training for front-line staff is now underway on the proper use of PPE. Staff will also be monitored whenever they put on or take off PPE to ensure it is done properly. We have developed two training videos to guide our staff in effective use of PPE.

Patients who are presenting to the Emergency Department who in the last three weeks have:

  • travelled to West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo (Equateur Province)
  • had close contact with someone who recently travelled to West Africa and was ill
  • had close contact weeks with bats, rodents, or primates from West Africa or
  • had or have a fever 

These patients are asked to use phone in the Emergency Department entrance vestibule in order for staff to prepare for your arrival.

Ebola Virus Disease Facts

Adapted from World Health Organization 
What is Ebola
Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness. The illness affects humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other in a remote area of Sudan.

The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats (Pteropodidae) are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.

How do people become infected with the virus?
In the current outbreak in West Africa, the majority of cases in humans have occurred as a result of human-to-human transmission.

Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.

What are typical signs and symptoms of infection?
Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts, and elevated liver enzymes.

The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days.

The patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period.

Ebola virus disease infections can only be confirmed through laboratory testing.

When should someone seek medical care?
If a person has been in an area known to have confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease or in contact with a person known or suspected to have Ebola and they begin to have symptoms, they should seek medical care immediately. 

What is the treatment?
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. They are frequently dehydrated and need intravenous fluids or oral rehydration with solutions that contain electrolytes. There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease.

What can I do? Can it be prevented? Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is no licensed medicine or vaccine for Ebola virus disease, but several products are under development.

Where can I get more information?
You can obtain more information by visiting the following websites: