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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 03:04 GMT
Canada mystery virus 'not Ebola'
More than 170 Ugandans have died from an Ebola outbreak
Doctors in Canada say preliminary tests show that a Congolese woman suffering from a mysterious illness does not have the deadly Ebola virus.

The woman appears to be suffering from a haemorrhagic fever, which was earlier feared to be the first case of Ebola to appear in North America.

However, the doctors told a news conference in Hamilton, Ontario that it was not yet clear what the woman was suffering from.

Based on information at this time ... the evidence is pointing to minimal danger

Dr Colin D'Cunha

Ebola has wiped out entire villages in Africa and is lethal in 50-90% of cases.

The 32-year-old woman, who arrived at Toronto airport on a flight from Ethiopia via New Jersey on Saturday, was admitted to hospital in Hamilton on Sunday.

She has been kept in strict quarantine, and has been drifting in and out of consciousness.

Hospital in Uganda
Ebola spreads through human contact
Dr Mark Loeb, an expert in infectious diseases at the hospital, said the woman's symptoms were "possibly compatible" with Ebola.

But he and others stressed that they believed there was little chance that the disease would spread and almost no possibility of a widescale outbreak.

Blood tests

Dr Colin D'Cunha, an Ontario medical official, said: "She arrived Saturday, so the circle of contacts is limited.

Mid 1970s: First outbreaks in northern Zaire (now DR Congo) claim 440
1995: Zaire outbreak kills more than 100
2000-2001: Uganda outbreak kills 173
"Based on information at this time, I wouldn't say the danger is zero. But it would be misleading to say it's a lot. The evidence is pointing to minimal."

The woman was put into total isolation on Monday when concerns were raised that the illness could be linked to Ebola.

No treatment

Canadian health authorities have asked for a list of passengers on the woman's flight, although they stress that the risk of infection to other passengers was light.

Ebola and the other haemorrhagic fevers are not transmitted through the air, experts said.

Infection occurs through direct contact with the infected person's blood or bodily fluids such as saliva or semen, and only after the person has exhibited symptoms such as fever.

There is still no treatment for Ebola readily available: no standard anti-viral therapies have any effect.

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See also:

23 Jan 01 | Middle East
Ebola fears prompt Hajj ban
06 Dec 00 | Africa
Compensation for Ebola deaths
04 Dec 00 | Africa
Uganda's Ebola nursing toll
24 Nov 00 | Africa
Ugandans deported in Ebola scare
23 Nov 00 | Africa
Ebola test for Uganda's wildlife
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
18 Oct 00 | Health
Africa's emerging virus threat
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