An employee at a Canadian government-run infectious disease lab may have been exposed to Ebola, health officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred Monday at a level 4 containment lab at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, which is part of the Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The individual was working with pigs that had been infected with the deadly virus for research purposes. In accordance with safety protocols for protection against the highly contagious virus, the employee was donning a protective suit. However, a split in the seam of the protective suit was discovered during the standard decontamination process for leaving the lab, an indication that exposure to the virus may have occurred.
"Our employees are well aware of the risks and how to control them. All proper emergency procedures were followed," said Dr. John Copps, Director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the worker's employer.
The employee has begun 21 days of "self-isolation" and monitoring by local health officials. "At this point, there is no risk to Canadians, to the community or to other employees of the lab, because the individual is not infectious," said Dr. Theresa Tam, deputy chief public health officer of the Public Health Agency. This is the first incident involving Ebola in Canada. The agency said the information was shared in the interest of transparency.
Video: See how a suit designed to protect you from Ebola isn’t perfect.
The first of five early stage clinical trials to test the safety and ability of an investigational Zika Purified Inactivated Virus (ZPIV) vaccine has begun at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Maryland (part of the U.S. Department of Defense).
The ZPIV vaccine is based on the same technology WRAIR used in 2009 to successfully develop a vaccine for another flavivirus called Japanese encephalitis. The ZPIV vaccine contains whole Zika virus particles that have been inactivated. However, the protein shell of the inactivated virus remains intact so it can be recognized by the immune system and evoke an immune response.
The new study aims to enroll 75 people (aged 18 to 49) with no prior flavivirus infection (includes Zika virus, yellow fever virus, dengue virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and West Nile virus). Participants will be randomly divided into three groups: 1) 25 participants will receive two intramuscular injections of the ZPIV test vaccine or a placebo (saline) 28 days apart; 2) The other two groups (50 participants each) will receive a two-dose regimen of a Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine or one dose of a yellow fever vaccine before beginning the two-dose ZPIV vaccine regimen. Additionally, a subgroup of 30 of the participants who receive the two-dose ZPIV regimen will receive a third dose one year later. All participants in the trial will receive the same ZPIV dose at each injection (5 micrograms). The WRAIR study is expected to be completed by fall 2018. Four additional Phase 1 studies to evaluate the ZPIV investigational vaccine are expected to launch in the coming months and described in this article.