After travelling to Liberia, a man is in a Saskatoon hospital with “high fever and other symptoms,” and while the results are not yet in it looks as though he may have a ” viral hemorrhagic fever.”
“Viral hemorrhagic fever is a generic name for a number of rather exotic diseases that are found in Africa,” Saskatchewan’s deputy medical health officer Dr. Denise Werker explained to the CBC.
While calling diseases “rather exotic” sounds politically incorrect at best, this class of illness includes Ebola virus, which is easily one of the most terrifying diseases in terms of its short-term effect on the human body. Ebola has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent and does, in fact, typically crop up in central Africa. Both the horrific nature of the illness and its location might make it “exotic,” although Werker should probably rethink her terminology.
There is currently an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea that Werker says could have spread to Liberia. Although tens of thousands of people have died from Ebola in the last 40 years, outbreaks are often short-lived. While Ebola is extremely virulent, it’s spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids rather than through the air.
Because of how the illness spreads, most people in Saskatoon are not in danger of anything more than nightmares and anxiety in relation to this man’s illness, which is good, because after looking at a few photos of Ebola victims nightmares and anxiety are more than enough.
Update: Tests conducted in a Winnipeg lab have ruled out Ebola along with fellow hemorrhagic fevers Marburg, Lassa and two others as the cause of the man’s symptoms. While his actual illness remains a mystery, the Public Health Agency of Canada told the CBC that the risk is still low.
The World Health Organization’s head of public relations said they now suspect the man may have malaria. Tests are ongoing.
[The StarPhoenix] [image via NIAID/Flickr]