The harrowing Ebola crisis gripping West Africa may seem nearly a world away, but precautionary measures are being taken locally to prepare for the very rare chance someone who may have come in contact with the disease travels to Terrace.
A notice on the door of laboratory testing service provider LifeLabs’ Park Ave. medical clinic location advises anyone who has travelled to or from West Africa in the last 21 days to see the receptionist immediately.
“While there is the possibility, albeit very low, that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) could reach Canada from West Africa, the notice is being provided as a precaution to help protect patients, physicians, staff in laboratories and specimen collection centres and the public at large from contracting EVD,” said LifeLabs director of public affairs Mitchell Toker in an email. “In taking these steps, LifeLabs is adhering to universal precautions and following infection control measures.”
The notices are posted at all LifeLabs collection centres in B.C. and are “just one aspect of the protocols we have put in place,” he said.
Since early September, all lab patients are asked about their past 21 day travel history and a strict protocol is followed with patients who have travelled to countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring. Staff have been trained on the protocol, which had input from the BC Centre for Disease Control and includes asking about symptoms, connecting with doctors and following up to ensure the patient checks in to hospital, if necessary.
LifeLabs physician clients have also been sent notices stating, among other measures, that patients “with a travel history plus one or more symptoms of EVD are not under any circumstances to be sent to our community laboratory specimen collection centers.”