Ebola virus disease in Sierra LeoneUpdated May 29, 2015
Travel Health Notice
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa a public health emergency that requires a coordinated international response to stop the spread. Some districts in Sierra Leone continue to be affected by this outbreak. For the total number of cases and deaths please consult the WHO’s latest situation report.
The outbreak continues to occur in Guinea and additional cases in this country can be expected. However, the outbreak in Liberia was officially declared to be over by the World Health Organization on May 9, 2015
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. This recommendation is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in this country to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak. The risk of infection is low for most travellers, however the risk may be increased for those who are working in a health care setting or for travellers who require medical care in affected areas as most human infections result from direct contact with body fluids of an infected patient. There may also be difficulties accessing health care services due to an increasingly burdened health care system.
For the latest updates on Ebola virus disease, including the total number of cases and deaths, please visit the World Health Organization’s Global Alert and Response website.
The Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone is working with the World Health Organization and other partners to implement measures to control the outbreak and prevent further spread.
For more information on safety, security and border measures for the affected countries, visit Country Travel Advice and Advisories.
Ebola virus disease is a rare, severe and sometimes fatal viral disease. The virus can infect both humans and animals. When infected, people can get very sick, with fever, intense weakness, headache, sore throat and pains, and may bleed from different parts of the body (i.e., haemorrhage).
If travel cannot be avoided, travellers should avoid all direct contact with a person or corpse infected with the Ebola virus or an animal suspected of having Ebola. Travellers from affected areas should immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.
To prevent transmission of Ebola
- Avoid non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.
- If you must travel to Sierra Leone:
- Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before your departure. Protect yourself by following the recommendations below.
- Avoid direct contact with blood and other body fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
- Avoid direct contact with bodies of people who died of Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses, including during funeral or burial rituals.
- Avoid contact with any objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with blood or body fluids.
- Until more information is known about sexual transmission, avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person, a person recovering or who has recovered from Ebola virus disease (abstain from sexual activity or use condoms every time).
- Health care workers are at higher risk and should always adhere to routine infection prevention and control measures.
- Health care workers should practise strict infection prevention and control measures including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves) when providing care for suspect or confirmed cases.
- In addition to routine practices for all patients, precautions for contact, droplet and aerosol generating procedures are recommended.
- Patients with Ebola should be isolated.
- Avoid close contact with or handling of animals.
- Avoid live or dead animals, as both can spread the virus. Animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats may be carriers.
- Avoid handling of raw or undercooked meat.
- Practise strict hand washing routines.
- Avoid hospitals in West Africa where treatment of patients with Ebola is occurring.
- The Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone has a toll free line (dial 117 in country) for information about Ebola virus disease and available health care facilities in the country.
- Know the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and see a health care provider if they develop during travel.
- It is important to limit your contact with others as much as possible until you can be assessed by a health care provider.
- You can become exposed to Ebola by caring or living with a person who is sick with Ebola, by having contact with Ebola infected blood or body fluids or by having contact with someone who died of Ebola or an unknown illness.
- If you believe you were exposed to Ebola virus but are not showing any symptoms of the illness, you should limit your contact with others as much as possible and monitor for symptoms for 21 days.
- If you develop symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.
- Check your travel health insurance plan and ensure you are fully covered. Consider contacting your travel health insurance provider to inquire about options for emergency medical evacuation if you become ill.
- Travelling home to Canada
- It is important to know that the airports in Ebola affected countries are screening travellers for signs of Ebola or a fever and/or the possibility that they may have been exposed to Ebola virus. Those who have been exposed or are showing symptoms of Ebola will not be allowed to travel on commercial flights as well as on any commercial buses, trains or ships.
- If you have been exposed but do not have any symptoms, you will not be permitted to take a commercial mode of transportation home, such as a commercial flight. You will need to arrange a private mode of transportation or stay in West Africa for at least 21 days until authorities decide it is safe for you to travel.
- Public health measures at Canada’s borders have been strengthened.
- All travellers coming into Canada with a travel history from the outbreak regions will receive a health assessment from a Quarantine Officer and will be required to report to a local public health authority and self-monitor for up to 21 days.
- Quarantine Officers will provide travellers with an information kit and additional instructions to follow depending on their level of exposure to Ebola.