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Canada patient tests negative for Ebola

By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
  • Health officials say the man tests negative for diseases including Ebola
  • The patient recently traveled from Liberia
  • An Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea has killed at least 59 people

(CNN) -- A man in Canada who was suspected of having Ebola has tested negative for viral hemorrhagic fevers, according to the World Health Organization and Canadian health officials.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers is a generic term that refers to a number of diseases found in Africa, including Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and yellow fever, according to Denise Werker, deputy chief medical health officer at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.

Testing on the man continues, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in a tweet. "May be malaria. Will know today."

"The patient in Saskatchewan does not have Ebola, Lassa, Marburg or Crimean Congo virus," said a statement from the Deputy Chief Public Health Office in Saskatchewan.

"The risk to Canadians remains very low. In addition, the ruling out of those four hemorrhagic viruses significantly reduces the risk to people who have been in close contact with the patient while the patient has exhibited symptoms."

Health officials in Canada said Monday they were looking into the case of a man exhibiting symptoms consistent with viral hemorrhagic fevers. He had recently traveled from Liberia.

"There is no risk to the general public at all about this incident. We recognize that there's going to be a fair amount of concern, and that's why we wanted to go public with this as soon as possible and dispel some of those myths that are out there," Werker told reporters Monday.

"All we know at this point is that we have a person who's critically ill who traveled from a country where these diseases occur," Werker said.

An Ebola outbreak has killed at least 59 people in Guinea, which borders Liberia in West Africa.

Werker said the Canadian patient is in an intensive care unit and isolated, meaning no visitors are allowed.

"To be clear, there are no confirmed cases of Ebola or any other hemorrhagic viruses in Canada," the Saskatchewan statement said. "In fact, there has never been a confirmed case of a hemorrhagic virus in this country."

The hemorrhagic fevers are characterized by high fever and symptoms that may be nondescript. But at the end point of the disease, patients can have bleeding from their mouths or eyes, Werker said.

There is no drug treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever, but it is not a highly infectious disease.

"You have to be in close proximity to the person's secretions," Werker said. "The persons who are most at risk are person who are actually health care workers, who don't wear protective clothing."

At least 59 dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak

CNN's Miriam Falco and Jacque Wilson contributed to this report.