Press Releases

Friday, October 3, 2014

Travel history actively being requested of patients

Patients exhibiting symptoms that may be consistent with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and are arriving at any of Winnipeg's six emergency rooms, calling for medical advice, or receiving care in the community should not be alarmed when asked to provide detailed information about any recent travel history to medical staff.

"We do not want patients or clients to be alarmed when asked for their travel history," said Ms. Helen Clark, Chief Operating Officer for Emergency Response and Patient Transport with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA)."Getting information about the travel history of patients showing symptoms consistent with EVD is critical information to help us assess health risk and determine the right course of response and treatment. This is also a recommended pre-screening step by the Public Health Agency of Canada."

Winnipeg emergency rooms recorded over 285,000 visits last year. They remain a high-volume location that connects the public to the health system, and is the place where requesting and detailing travel history is most likely to be noticed by patients and the public.

"We want to emphasize that emergency departments and public health officials are not actively screening all patients for EVD," said Ms. Clark."Only patients presenting to emergency departments or to their primary care providers with symptoms possibly consistent with EVD should expect to be asked to provide information on their recent travel history to determine the right course of treatment and response."

Initial symptoms of EVD may include fever, chills, muscle ache, headache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

"As the flu season approaches and flu-like symptoms begin to emerge, we do not want the public to be needlessly alarmed when they are asked about their travel history," said Ms. Clark.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to say the public health risk in Canada due to EVD remains very low, although risk is greater for Canadians who provide medical care to EVD infected individuals as part of the response efforts in West Africa.

Despite the low risk, the WRHA is planning and preparing for the low probability a person with suspected EVD may at some point present to a health care provider within Canada or Winnipeg. The WRHA's Public Health program, together with the Region's Infection Prevention & Control and emergency medical services, are actively monitoring the EVD outbreak in consultation with PHAC and Manitoba Health.

For more information contact:

Melissa Hoft                            
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority       
Tel: 204-926-7868
Cell: 204-299-0152

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
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