Via The StarPhoenix: Ebola virus feared in man critically ill in Saskatoon. Excerpt and then a bit of speculation:
[Dr. Denise] Werker said the sick man in Saskatoon had been in Liberia doing field work, but she did not have any more details.
His symptoms appeared after he had returned to Canada — he wasn’t ill while travelling, Werker said. That’s good news for the public, as people are not very infectious in the incubation stages of these diseases.
Symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) include a high fever, fatigue and weakness, and a sore throat. In more severe cases, it can evolve into internal bleeding, or bleeding from the mouth or the eyes, Werker said.
“Ebola would certainly be the most famous and the worst (of the VHFs) because of the terrible amount of bleeding that people do from the mucous membranes, so it’s graphically terrible,” [microbiologist Andrew] Cameron said. “That’s why it doesn’t spread very far because people suffer such crippling and obvious symptoms from it.”
According to the World Health Organization, anywhere from 25 to 90 per cent of people infected during Ebola outbreaks die.
Ebola is so deadly to humans because it rapidly spreads between red blood cells and destroys them, said Dr. Volker Gerdts, associate director of research at the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan.
“The infection is faster than your defence, and that is why people die,” he said.
A World Health Organization spokesman said Monday all known human cases of Ebola were both contracted and symptomatic in Africa, making any case of Ebola outside of that continent a world first.
One lab worker in Europe did become ill working with the virus.
Hemorrhagic fevers usually appear in short and intense outbreaks before fizzling out, he said.
Close household contacts would be most at risk of catching a VHF, Werker said.
Health care workers caring for the man will take precautions such as wearing goggles, masks, gloves, gowns, and boots, Werker said.
The man is in a negative-pressure room at St. Paul’s Hospital, according to a Monday evening memo from hospital CEO Jean Morrison, obtained by The StarPhoenix.
Public health officials are in the process of contacting health care workers and members of the public who may have come into contact with the man, the memo says.
How he’ll fare depends on his diagnosis, Werker said. Werker did not know how long the man had been in Liberia.
"Field work" in Liberia might be anything from surveying to missionary work, but Canadian mining companies are a big (and often unpopular) force in many developing countries. Geologists can spend weeks in the bush, and may come into contact with various wild animals. Look at a list of companies in Liberia offering mining jobs, and notice how many of them are based in Canada.