The man noticed a split in the seam of his protective suit during
standard decontamination procedures and prior to leaving the
Winnipeg, Manitoba lab, said John Copps, director of Canadian Food
Inspection Agency's (CFIA) National Center for Foreign Animal
Disease, where the incident happened.
All proper emergency procedures were followed and the risk to the
employee, co-workers and community are low, Copps said.
Ebola grabbed global attention in 2014 during an epidemic in West
Africa that killed thousands. The Winnipeg animal disease lab is on
the same site as a microbiology laboratory where scientists
developed an experimental Ebola vaccine.
The facility, which employs about 600 staff, is one of only a
handful of North American labs capable of handling pathogens
requiring the highest level of containment.
There have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Canada, according to the
Public Health Agency's website.
The employee has agreed to be isolated and will be monitored for
symptoms by health officials for 21 days, Copps said. The man had no
contact with other employees before realizing the risk of possible
infection, a CFIA spokeswoman said.
The experiment involved treating six pigs with interferons, which
are proteins made by cells of the immune system, and then infecting
them with Ebola to see if interferons can affect the disease's
outcome, Copps said.
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The man, who was not identified, was suited up to move an
anaesthetized pig to be sampled. It is unclear how the suit, which
was new, had ripped, Copps said.
Standard procedure is to check the protective bodysuits at least
once a week for any sign of punctures or tearing.
Ebola is spread through bodily fluids and individuals are not
considered infectious until they develop symptoms, which has not
happened in this case, said Theresa Tam, deputy chief public health
officer of Canada's Public Health Agency.
She said the employee was offered an Ebola vaccine, but officials
would not say if it was used.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Bernard
Orr and Tom Brown)
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