Dis­ease re­searcher might have been ex­posed to Ebola


WINNIPEG— An em­ployee at the Na­tional Cen­tre for For­eign An­i­mal Dis­ease may have been ex­posed to the Ebola virus.

Dr. John Copps said the em­ployee was work­ing with six in­fected pigs Mon­day and no­ticed a split in the seam of his pro­tec­tive suit dur­ing de­con­tam­i­na­tion af­ter work­ing in the Level 4 lab in Winnipeg.

The lab di­rec­tor said all proper emer­gency pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed and the risk to the em­ployee, co-work­ers and the com­mu­nity is con­sid­ered to be low.

“Our em­ploy­ees are well aware of the risks and how to con­trol them,” Copps told a news con­fer­ence Tues­day.

He said it’s stan­dard pro­ce­dure to check the full-body suits at least once a week. He would not spec­u­late on how the seam split.

“The em­ployee had worked in the suit pre­vi­ously and the suit was checked rig­or­ously and it was a new suit.”

Of­fi­cials said there was no con­tact with other work­ers be­fore the em­ployee re­al­ized the risk of pos­si­ble in­fec­tion.

The em­ployee met with a doc­tor and was of­fered an ex­per­i­men­tal Ebola vac­cine. Of­fi­cials, cit­ing pri­vacy, wouldn’t say whether he re­ceived the vac­cine.

The em­ployee is in iso­la­tion and will be mon­i­tored for 21days by lo­cal health of­fi­cials.

The na­tional lab works in the preven­tion, de­tec­tion, con­trol and re­port­ing of for­eign an­i­mal dis­eases and emerg­ing dis­eases. Its re­search in­cludes work on avian in­fluenza, foot-and-mouth dis­ease and clas­si­cal swine fever.

Ebola is spread through di­rect con­tact with the blood, sweat, vomit, fe­ces, urine, saliva or se­men of those in­fected or of corpses.

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