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Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Updated: September 08, 2014

Travel Health Notice

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa a public health emergency that requires a coordinated international response to stop the spread. Cases and deaths of Ebola virus disease continue to be reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and additional cases in these countries can be expected. There have been a small number of confirmed and suspected cases and deaths associated with this outbreak reported in NigeriaExternal link and a travel related case in SenegalExternal link. Unrelated cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of CongoExternal link.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. This recommendation is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in these countries to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak. The risk of infection is low for most travellers, however the risk may be increased for those who are working in a health care setting or for travellers who require medical care in affected areas as most human infections result from direct contact with body fluids of an infected patient. There may also be difficulties accessing health care services due to increasingly burdened health care system.

For the latest updates on Ebola virus disease, including the total number of case and deaths, please visit the World Health Organization’s Global Alert and Response websiteExternal link.  

The Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are working with the World Health Organization and other partners to implement measures to control the outbreak and prevent further spread.

For more information on safety, security and border measures for these affected countries, visit Country Travel Advice and AdvisoriesExternal link.

Ebola virus disease is a rare, severe and sometimes fatal viral disease. The virus can infect both humans and animals. When infected, people can get very sick, with fever, intense weakness, headache, sore throat and pains, and may bleed from different parts of the body (i.e., haemorrhage).

If travel cannot be avoided, travellers should avoid all direct contact with a person or corpse infected with the Ebola virus or an animal suspected of having Ebola. Travellers from affected areas should immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.

Recommendations

  1. Avoid non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  2. If you must travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before your departure. Protect yourself by following the recommendations below.
  • Avoid direct contact with blood and other body fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
    • Avoid direct contact with bodies of people who died of Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
    • Avoid contact with any objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with blood or body fluids.
    • Avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person or a person recovering from Ebola virus disease (abstain from sexual intercourse or use latex condoms for 15 weeks following the start of symptoms). 
  • Health care workers are at higher risk and should adhere to strict infection prevention and control measures.
    • Health care workers should practise strict infection control measuresExternal link including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves) when providing care for suspect or confirmed cases.
    • In addition to routine practices for all patients, precautions for contact, droplet and aerosol generating procedures are recommended.
    • Patients with Ebola should be isolated.
  • Avoid close contact with or handling of animals.
    • Avoid live or dead animals, as both can spread the virus. Animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats may be carriers.
    • Avoid handling of raw or undercooked meat.
  • Practise strict hand washing routinesExternal link.
  • Know the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and see a health care provider if they develop during travel.
  • Monitor your health upon your return or entry into Canada from a region affected by the Ebola outbreak.
    • If you have symptoms upon arrival into Canada, tell a flight attendant or a border services officer when you arrive. They will determine whether you need further medical assessment.
    • Seek medical attention immediately, if a fever and/or any other symptoms arise within three weeks after your return to Canada.
      • Be sure to tell your health care provider before your appointment that you have travelled to a region where Ebola virus disease was present and inform them of your symptoms and the activities or work you participated in.  This way, the health care provider can arrange to see you without exposing others.  If you are concerned that you are infected, it is important to limit your contact with others as much as possible until you can be assessed by the health care provider.