By Rod Nickel
| WINNIPEG, Manitoba
WINNIPEG, Manitoba The Canadian government will review the use of a suit used to shield laboratory workers from the Ebola virus after an employee found a tear following an experiment, the lab's director said on Wednesday.The worker at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba may have been accidentally exposed to Ebola on Monday while handling pigs infected with the virus in an experiment, government officials said on Tuesday.The worker, whom Canadian officials have not identified, noticed a one-inch split in his suit's seam by the torso while showering on Monday afternoon, John Copps, director of the centre, run by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said in an interview.The review is part of its usual process following an incident, he said. The cause of the split has not been identified.Ebola, which killed thousands in a West Africa outbreak in 2014, spreads through contact with body fluids and tissues of an infected person.The risk that the lab worker was infected is low, Copps said. As of Tuesday, he was not exhibiting Ebola symptoms, health officials said.
The Winnipeg animal disease lab is on the same site as a microbiology laboratory where scientists developed an Ebola vaccine.The lab handles pathogens requiring the highest level of containment, and outfits workers in the Chemturion suit produced by ILC Dover, which also makes space suits and products for aerospace and flood protection.The suit is one of three models worn in such labs internationally, Copps said.
"This is the most robust suit on the market," he said. "It's a very rare event, and we make sure we check suits on a very regular basis to avoid this at all costs."Copps said he was aware of one other seam splitting in a protective suit in the 18 years he has worked at the lab.The blue Chemturion suits are made of a chlorinated polyethylene, or type of plastic, designed to resist chemicals, according to the website of Delaware-based ILC.
ILC, majority owned by private equity firm Behrman Capital, could not be immediately reached for comment.After realizing he may have been exposed, the lab worker met with supervisors and doctors and went into "self-isolation" off-site, where he is visited more than once daily by health officials, Copps said.A person infected with Ebola takes two to 21 days to become infectious, he said. (Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Richard Chang)
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Updated Date: Nov 10, 2016 00:45 AM