An employee at the national animal health lab in Winnipeg was potentially exposed to the Ebola virus yesterday, federal officials say.
The employee was wearing a protective suit and noticed a split as he prepared to move a pig infected with the virus, Dr. John Copps, director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) told reporters Tuesday.
The employee of the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) was evaluated by an infectious disease specialist and has put himself in isolation for 21 days — the maximum time from Ebola infection to the onset of symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.
The risk to the public is considered low because the individual is not showing any symptoms and is not considered infectious, officials said Tuesday.
He was offered an experimental vaccine.
Dr. Theresa Tam, deputy chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said the organization is respecting the employee’s privacy regarding whether or not he accepted the vaccine.
The anesthetized pig was one of six infected with the Ebola virus as part of the lab’s research into whether treating with interferon affects the course of the disease, Copps said.
The suits are supposed to be checked once a week and this was a relatively new suit that was checked rigorously, he said.
Health officials won’t speculate about how it became torn.
The national lab works in the prevention, detection, control and reporting of foreign animal diseases and emerging diseases. Its research also includes work on avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.
In March, WHO declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was not longer a global health risk.
The disease is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids.
More than 11,000 people have died from the disease since December 2013, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.