10/16/2014 04:05 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST

Ebola training for Saskatoon health-care workers to start next week

SASKATOON - The Saskatoon Health Region says training for front-line health-care workers on how to deal with the Ebola virus is to start next week.

Dr. Johnmark Opondo, deputy medical health officer, says health providers will be drilled on how to properly handle personal protective equipment in case the deadly virus appears in the region.

He suggests that some images from the outbreak in West Africa showing health-care workers in Hazmat suits could cause confusion among workers.

Opondo also says that with influenza season approaching, people may not be sure whether they have Ebola or the flu.

But he stresses it's very unlikely the disease will ever reach Saskatoon.

He says symptoms are similar, but exposure to the virus is the key difference.

"Early Ebola is fever, headaches, sore throat — which is identical to influenza — but the most important difference is you need to have had a history of either being in the countries where there's been an outbreak or having had contact with someone who's had Ebola," he said Thursday.

Saskatoon doctors are asking people that have a fever if they've travelled to Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea.

"And, if it's yes, isolate, put on your (protective equipment) and then call the medical health officer and call an infectious disease specialist."

Concerns about the Ebola virus are starting to grow in Canada after two health-care workers in Texas were infected while treating a patient.

Opondo said health providers must remember Ebola is not easily transmittable.

"It's droplets and close contact. If you wear the right personal protective equipment — and you use it properly — it is protective. But you need to really practise. And that's the next stage of our planning ... is to drill putting on and taking off (protective equipment)."