Ebola Information

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus is a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. There is currently an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola-related Travel Advisories

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa a global emergency. As a result, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued travel advisories for certain Central and West African countries. Please click here for the latest updates from PHAC.

McGill University is following the PHAC’s recommendation for students, faculty and staff considering travel to these countries. Staff or faculty who are planning to visit these regions should consult at the pre-travel clinic at the J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases in the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC.

For students, please note that the University International Mobility Guidelines require students travelling abroad to be guided by the Canadian Government Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) travel advisories and to seek exemption for travel to any country or region under a DFATD Advisory. There are currently advisories against travel to several West African Countries.

Ebola Risk in Canada

The risk of Ebola is very low in Canada, especially in Quebec where there are no direct flights to the affected countries. However, hospitals across the province, including the MUHC, and medical clinics, including McGill Student Health Service, have established detailed protocols in the event that a suspected Ebola patient arrives in the province.

Ebola Transmission

Ebola is only transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person (or animal) or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.

Ebola is not a respiratory disease and as such, cannot be transmitted through the air. It cannot be transmitted through food or water either.

Ebola Symptoms

Symptoms include fever, weakness, joint and/or muscle aches, abdominal pain, headache, weakness and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash and, in some cases, bleeding.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the Ebola virus, but the average is 8-10 days.

If You Think You Have Been Exposed to Ebola

If you have travelled to an affected country (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo or Senegal), or you have otherwise been exposed to an individual with Ebola and are currently experiencing Ebola symptoms (see above), please take the following steps:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, if a fever and/or any other Ebola symptoms arise within three weeks after your return to Canada.
  • It is preferable to go directly to the emergency room of a hospital either in your own car or by ambulance, NOT by using any form of public transportation.
  • Be sure to tell the triage nurse at the hospital that you feel ill and that you have recently travelled to a region where the Ebola virus disease was present. Also detail the activities or work that you participated in while travelling.
  • If you are not experiencing symptoms, you may monitor yourself by:
  • Taking your temperature twice daily for the first 21 days after arriving in Canada.
  • If at any time during these 21 days you should get a fever and/or any Ebola symptoms, follow the instructions above.

Related Links and Information