A patient back from Nigeria who showed symptoms of fever and flu — possible signs of Ebola — was put in isolation in a Toronto-area hospital, Canadian health officials said.
Nigeria is one of several countries in West Africa that has had confirmed cases of Ebola, in the world’s largest ever outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever that has seen 961 deaths and nearly 1,800 people infected since the beginning of the year.
The unnamed male patient was being treated at the William Osler Health System’s Brampton Civic Hospital in a suburb of Toronto.
“As a precautionary measure, Osler put in heightened infection control measures in the emergency department including isolating the patient,” the hospital said in a statement, released late on Friday.
Hospital doctors “are working closely” with public health officials “to confirm a diagnosis.”
In addition to quarantining the patient, the hospital said it enacted other strict precautionary measures.
“To date, there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ontario and the risk to Ontarians remains very low,” said Graham Pollett, the province’s Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health.
He also said that Ontario’s health care system “is prepared to respond should an individual arrive with symptoms that could suggest a disease, such as Ebola.”
He cautioned that initial Ebola symptoms “are similar to many more common diseases,” adding that health care providers “have been advised to be on heightened alert for Ebola cases.”
Another senior Ontario health official, Eric Hoskins, said in a statement that with the “experience and lessons learned from the SARS epidemic, our hospitals have sophisticated infection control systems and procedures … and are fully equipped to deal with any potential cases of Ebola.”
The worst affected countries so far have been Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, but Nigeria has also had nine confirmed cases of Ebola so far.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday declared a national emergency several hours after the World Health Organization called the epidemic a global health crisis.