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Ebola Q&A

August 1, 2014 — 

In light of the recent news stories regarding ebola infections, UM Today spoke with Dr. John Embil, professor in Internal Medicine and director, Health Sciences Centre, Infection Prevention and Control Unit, to get a better understanding of the possible dangers. Embil says, “We should take our guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. There are protocols in place regarding possible contact with exposed individuals and Canadian health professionals are well aware of these protocols and procedures.”

Should we be concerned?

“Physicians are trained to be on the lookout for signs of infectious diseases of all kinds. We follow the guidelines set out by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

How can we prevent infection from such diseases?

“Proper decontamination and care in dealing with infected individuals is the best way to avoid spread of any disease or virus. Effective hand washing and sterilization protocols should always be followed in hospitals, and visitors should be aware of the importance of personal hygiene and washing techniques.”

A tried and true means to prevent disease is frequent and proper hand washing. In 2010 Dr. Embil wrote a children’s book about the subject and then produced this video of him reading it, with apologies to Dr. Seuss, to help spread the message.



3 comments on “Ebola Q&A

  1. PW

    if frequent handwashing can prevent such infections, then how did 100 health care workers in west africa become infected…surely after wearing head to toe suits with masks, rubber gloves and boots, and goggles…3 decontamination procedures, they would have washed their hands no?

    1. JB

      It’s because there is not nearly the level of hygiene in West Africa that you would expect here. Running water? Soap? Luxuries. Everything has to be brought in. Also, consider that these doctors are working in extreme conditions – sweltering heat, long hours, utter exhaustion. Mistakes get made.

  2. PW

    over 100 mistakes? made by people whose training leaves them understanding the importance of hygeine (and protective gear, and decontamination)more than most?

    you’ll forgive me if that doesn’t make sense, if someone who is infected is walking through the same produce aisle in the grocery store as me.

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