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

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta couple celebrates 60th anniversary

They still laugh, hold hands, play crib and fish says daughter

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

Children and their families enjoy the light display at Centennial Park in 2019. (File photo)
Town anounces expanded light display and new Christmas Light Tour

The Town of Ponoka will flip the switch on an expanded Christmas… Continue reading

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Most Read