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Woman in Canada may have Ebola

February 6, 2001
Web posted at: 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT)

HAMILTON, Ontario (CNN) -- Health officials are working to determine if a woman who traveled from Africa and now is hospitalized in Canada is suffering from Ebola hemorrhagic fever -- in what would be the first known case in North America.

Health Canada, the nation's health department, confirmed a laboratory in Winnipeg had received blood samples from the woman. The hospital where the woman is being is treated is testing for viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola, a severe, often-fatal disease, according to a hospital spokeman.

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Test results are expected by Thursday, possibly sooner, said Jeff Pender of Health Canada.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers are spread through human excretions such as blood, semen, saliva and mucus, and are not as contagious as airborne illnesses.

The woman, whose name is not being released, was in serious condition at a Hamilton hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness, said hospital spokesman Jay Robb.

She flew from Congo to New York and on to Toronto, where she arrived Saturday. Officials said she did not have any symptoms on the plane flight. She was brought to the emergency room of the Hamilton hospital around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, said hospital spokesman Jeff Vallentine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also said it is expecting to receive blood samples on Wednesday for further testing.

CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said one of their doctors spoke with authorities in Canada and was told the patient probably was not infectious while traveling because she showed no symptoms.

Ebola has appeared sporadically since its initial recognition in 1976. It was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first found. There have been no known cases in North America.

Symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle aches, stomach pain, fatigue and diarrhea. They typically appear within a few days of becoming infected. The disease also causes massive internal bleeding.



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RELATED SITES:
CDC: Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
World Health Organization: Ebola hemorrhagic fever
Institute for Molecular Virology: Ebola Outbreaks

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