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Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    12-February-2001      
Issue 43 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    13-February-2001      

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Back To Vidyya Ebola Suspected In Canadian Patient

Virus Later Ruled Out As Infectious Agent

A patient under care at Henderson Hospital in Hamilton continues to improve as Health Canada confirms that preliminary lab results are now ruling out the Ebola Virus. During Friday's media briefing, Dr. Mark Loeb, infectious disease specialist at Hamilton Health Science's Henderson Hospital, confirmed that the patient's condition continues to improve. "Our patient is showing improvements and for the caregivers in the hospital this is really good news," said Dr. Loeb.

"The public should not panic, viruses of the nature under investigation require extreme close contact to the patient in order to be transmitted," said Dr. Loeb. Dr. Loeb confirmed that 16 people within the hospital are being monitored as contacts. A small fraction of those 16 are being monitored as potential close contacts. All levels of health officials are continuing to identify any new potential close contacts within the regional health system. In order to be considered a close contact, individuals must come in significant contact with bodily fluids, including blood, mucous or vomit from the patient. Henderson health professionals continue an ongoing dialogue with staff and community health authorities.

Meanwhile, Health Canada spokesman, Dr. D.W. MacPherson confirmed that the Health Canada National Microbiology Laboratory tests did rule out Ebola. While the preliminary Ebola tests were negative, testing continues for exotic severe tropical infections (viral haemorrhagic fevers).

Dr. MacPherson was asked if this was a wake up call. He answered emphatically, "This was not a wake up call...we were wide awake. The clinicians and this hospital appropriately implemented the necessary measures as soon as the severe nature of the illness was determined." Dr. MacPherson commended hospital and public health authorities for the work they have carried out to date.

The City of Hamilton's Social and Public Health Services Department reconfirmed that the patient was not ill during travel and only became ill after arriving in Hamilton. "Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers are spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an ill patient," said Dr. Monir Taha, Public Health Physician. "The travel period of the patient is therefore not a risk situation for other travelers.

Social and Public Health Services is still working with two people in the community that have been assessed as having high risk contact with the patient. The department is continuing to follow-up to ensure that all community contacts have been identified. As well, Dr. Taha confirmed that the Social and Public Health Services Department has not identified any of the City's Emergency Services workers who would fit into the high risk contact category, but is continuing to investigate.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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