10/01/2014 02:24 EDT | Updated 12/01/2014 05:59 EST

Ebola Risk Low, But Some Infections Expected, Says B.C. Medical Officer

Tyler Hicks via Getty Images
386640 04: Linda Pezzanite, a microbiologist working for the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, tests blood samples for the Ebola virus while wearing a protective suit February 2001 at St. Mary's Hospital in Lacor, Uganda. Nearly 200 people died in northern Uganda in this latest outbreak of Ebola. (Photo by Tyler Hicks/Liaison)

B.C.'s provincial health officer says it would not be surprising to see cases of the Ebola virus appear, but that there is no reason for alarm.

"We likely think over the next six months [we'll] probably import a case or two, or maybe even three," Dr. Perry Kendall told CBC News.

"But the chances of them — once they're in hospital and isolated — infecting anybody else is slim."

The province is prepared to deal with such cases, should they arise, he said.

Kendall's comments came after news of the first confirmed case of the virus diagnosed in the United States, in Texas.

He said the risk to British Columbians remains low, and that Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from someone with symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization, the fatality rate is around 50 per cent.

Kendall said there is a system in place for people arriving from Africa who have shown signs of illness, but so far there have been no confirmed cases in Canada.

"Certainly not in B.C. — we have had cases that we have tested."

The patient diagnosed in the U.S. had recently arrived from Liberia, and health officials are tracing and monitoring those people he had contact with.


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