Eileen De Villa and the Ebola outbreak in Canada

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment in Germany during an Ebola outbreak, is “on leave, I understand it’s called,” she says. “But I’m not on clinical leave.”

By the time she returns, she will be nearly 30, and will have served under three provincial governments, long before she met Dr. Thomas Eric Duncan. She can expect to be a familiar face at public health symposiums, and will be a familiar face when she opens her first private clinics in Toronto after her medical leave. She has never had a day off and, despite the title of her job, has been involved in many.

She was in charge of the first Canadian outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 in the United States. She dealt with the death and grief of Ebola survivors. The second, less publicized, was in West Africa, in September. The third, in Canada, will involve the first known case of the virus in this country, and will begin in May.

“We still have a lot of work to do — and there’s no rush,” she says. “Everyone has to give us time to evaluate.”

It is not just the public health response to the current outbreak, but to the potential of more.

Dr. Eileen De Villa and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in July 2014.

The country’s health-care system has been under the microscope, and has been overwhelmed. The public-health department has added hundreds of new staff, including physicians, nurses, public health officers, epidemiologists, public health assistants, lab technicians, epidemiologists, epidemiologists — all needed in an outbreak. The department has had to work harder and longer to coordinate the response, with the help of experts from the World Health Organization, international medical organizations and other countries.

“There’s been more than we anticipated,” she says. “We’re now seeing how we work together.”

The outbreak began in March when a Liberian national who crossed into Nigeria tested positive for antibodies to the virus. The patient died at a British hospital, but no further cases were reported.

In July

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