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Archived - Government of Canada and British Columbia confirm additional case of H7N9 avian influenza in Canada

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January 30, 2015 - Ottawa, ON - Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor and Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Deputy Provincial Health Officer today confirmed that the second individual in B.C. has now tested positive for the H7N9 avian influenza strain. As noted by health officials on January 26th, the husband and wife recently returned to Canada from China.

The risk to Canadians of getting sick with H7N9 is very low as evidence suggests that it does not transmit easily from person-to-person. Since both cases became symptomatic one day apart, it is likely they were exposed to a common source, rather than one having been infected by the other.

These individuals are residents of British Columbia and were not symptomatic during travel and began showing symptoms after arrival in Canada. The individuals did not require hospitalization and are currently recovering from their illness.

All close contacts of the individuals have been identified and their health is being monitored by provincial public health authorities. The Canadian healthcare system has strong procedures and controls in place to respond to and control the spread of infectious diseases and protect healthcare workers.

The first individual's diagnosis of H7N9 was confirmed by both the B.C. provincial laboratory and the Agency’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg on Monday, January 26th.  The second individual diagnosis of H7N9 was confirmed by both the B.C. provincial laboratory and the NML late on January 29th.

The Agency works closely with its national and international partners, including the WHO, to track all types of flu activity in Canada and around the world.

Quick Facts

  • H7N9 is a type of avian influenza virus that has been seen in people in China since 2013. Almost all of the cases reported contact with poultry, usually in live poultry markets.
  • To date, the H7N9 strain has not been detected in birds in Canada.
  • The Agency’s Travel Health Notices on www.travel.gc.ca provide information on how to protect yourself from avian influenza while abroad.
  • There is no risk of catching the virus by eating well-cooked poultry. Canada does not import raw poultry or raw poultry products from China.
  • Canadians can help protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu in general by:
    • Getting an annual influenza shot
    • Washing hands frequently;
    • Covering coughs and sneezes;
    • Keeping common surfaces clean; and
    • Staying home when sick.
  • The Agency has notified China, the World Health Organization and other international partners about the case, in keeping with our commitment under the International Health Regulations.

Quotes

“I want to reassure Canadians that the risk of H7N9 is very low as there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.  The Agency remains in close contact with the provincial public health authority and is committed to providing Canadians with accurate and up-to-date information about H7N9.  Importantly, this is not part of the seasonal flu, which circulates in Canada every year. These are isolated cases”.

Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“H7N9 is a strain that we in the public health community have been watching closely since 2013. After the first case came back positive for H7N9 we fully expected that her travel companion was infected with the same strain and this was confirmed Thursday. Public health officials have completed their follow up of contacts, and there has been no further spread. Given the time frame of illness, we are confident that we will not see any additional related cases here in BC.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry
Deputy Provincial Health Officer

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Contacts

Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983


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