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

Jovin Walkus and Alayah Mack enjoy the Centennial Pool in summer 2020. (Geneva Walkus photo)
CCRD receives more funding for Centennial Pool project

The total funding for the project is now over $4 million

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read