Canada advises citizens to leave Ebola-hit countries

Medical staff check the passengers by taking their temperature at Sierra Leone's International Airport in Freetown, on August 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Ottawa (AFP) - The Canadian government advised its citizens to leave the West African countries hardest hit by Ebola, while taking measures at its own borders to screen for potentially exposed travelers.

"We are asking Canadians living in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to consider leaving by commercial means while they are still available," Health Minister Rona Ambrose said on Friday.

The minister also said that anyone traveling to Canada from the countries affected by the epidemic will be screened at airports.

Ambrose stressed that "the risk to Canadians here at home is very low," but said, as a precaution, quarantine officers will check those who may have been exposed to the hemorrhagic virus for fever and "determine whether additional public health measures are required."

The West African Ebola outbreak erupted at the beginning of the year, killing nearly 4,000 people so far -- roughly half of those infected.

This week saw the first Ebola death in the United States, while a nurse in Spain is fighting for her life after being infected while treating an Ebola patient who died.

The disease causes fever, diarrhea, vomiting and in some cases internal and external bleeding.

It is spread by contact and the exchange of bodily fluids.