Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says Canada’s first case of H1N2v, a variant swine flu virus found in humans, has been detected in the central part of the province. The case is believed to be isolated with no increased risk to Albertans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says Canada’s first case of H1N2v, a variant swine flu virus found in humans, has been detected in the central part of the province. The case is believed to be isolated with no increased risk to Albertans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada’s first case of rare swine flu variant found in central Alberta patient

Health Canada said on its website the other cases include 24 in the United States and two in Brazil

Canada’s first case of a rare swine flu variant has been found in a patient from central Alberta, but the province’s chief medical officer of health says it seems to be isolated.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the Influenza A H1N2v case was detected in mid-October after the patient showed up at an emergency department for medical care.

“This currently appears to be one isolated case,” Hinshaw said at a news conference Wednesday. “It is also the only case of influenza that has been reported so far this flu season.

“Influenza viruses that normally circulate in pigs, including H1N2, can infect people — although this is not common.”

When cases appear in humans, they are called ‘variant’ viruses and a ‘v’ is added to the end of the name.

Hinshaw said it’s the first reported case of H1N2v in Canada since 2005 when reporting became mandatory— and one of only 27 cases globally.

Health Canada said on its website the other cases include 24 in the United States and two in Brazil.

“Based on current evidence in Canada, the risk to human health is low,” it noted.

The federal agency said swine flu viruses don’t normally infect people, but there have been infrequent exceptions. It can be contracted by humans when they breath in respiratory droplets from an infected pig or touch something with the virus on it and then touch their mouth or nose.

“All have been linked to direct or indirect contact with swine and none of the previously reported cases have caused sustained human-to-human transmission,” addedHinshaw.

The Alberta patient, she said, had mild symptoms, was tested for influenza and COVID-19 as is routine in hospitals, and recovered quickly.

“There is no evidence at this time that the virus has spread further,” she said.

Hinshaw said Alberta Health is working closely with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, as well as Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to determine the source of the virus and to verify that no spread has occurred.

“Retrospective testing of central Alberta COVID samples from the past two weeks for influenza is almost complete and no positive influenza samples have been found,” she said.

Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services will offer optional influenza testing to anyone in central Alberta who shows up for COVID-19 testing.

Both she and Dr. Keith Lehman, the province’s chief veterinarian, said they are still investigating the source of the virus.

“At the moment, there are no links to slaughterhouses,” said Hinshaw, who added that they are looking into potential links to some pig farms in the area.

Lehman said the animal health investigation is using information provided by the patient.

“We have identified some potential sources and we are continuing to investigate,” he said.

Lehman added that it’s not unusual to see influenza in swine populations in Western Canada and around the world.

“Within Western Canada, we have routine surveillance that is undertaken for our swine farms and we tend to see anywhere from roughly 10 to 30 cases identified per quarter,” he said. “It is a virus that is not uncommon in our swine populations.”

Lehman said there’s no increased risk to other hog operations because they have strong biosecurity practices to prevent it from spreading. If a pig does contract it, it’s typically a mild illness, he said.

Officials stressed that H1N2 in pigs is not food-related.

“It is not transmissible to people through pork meat or other products that come from pigs and there is no risk associated with eating pork,” said Hinshaw.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo:  Black Press Media
Greater Trail RCMP urge locals to stay off the roads

By noon there were four commercial tractor trailers stuck on hills in the Trail area

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

Terry Miller won the Rossland byelection.on Saturday.  Photo: Terry Miller
Rossland voters select Terry Miller as new councillor

City of Rossland releases results of advance voting and final voting day of council byelection

Katrine Conroy’s swearing in ceremony. Photo: Kootenay West Katrine Conroy Facebook
Forestry Minister West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy talks about her new role

Conroy will also oversee Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Treaty

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Most Read