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

Alberta public health and agriculture officials are investigating after the first case in Canada of a rare swine flu variant was detected last month in a central Alberta patient.

The case is only the 27th in the world since 2005, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a joint statement Wednesday with Dr. Keith Lehman, chief provincial veterinarian.

“A confirmed case of variant Influenza A (H1N2)v has been detected in central Alberta,” Hinshaw and Lehman said in the statement.

“This currently appears to be one isolated case and there is no increased risk to Albertans at this time. This is the only influenza case reported in Alberta so far this flu season.”

Hinshaw and Lehman will talk more about the case at a news conference at noon Wednesday.

You can watch it live here.

Hinshaw and Lehman said the virus was detected in mid-October when a patient with influenza-like symptoms sought medical treatment.

“The patient experienced mild symptoms, was tested and then quickly recovered,” they said. “There is no evidence at this time that the virus has spread further.”

Public health investigation underway

Health officials, working with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, have launched a public health investigation to determine the source of the virus and to verify that no spread occurred.

The province said it will continue working closely with Alberta Health Services, the Public Health Agency of Canada and other partners across Canada.

“AHS will proactively offer influenza testing to residents in parts of central Alberta if they are presenting for COVID-19 testing at an AHS assessment centre,” the statement said. “This testing will be optional and supports our ongoing influenza surveillance in the region.

“We are taking this seriously, but Albertans should know that sporadic cases of variant influenza have been reported over the past decade in North America.

“Variant Influenza A (H1N2) is rare with only 27 cases reported globally since 2005, and no cases in Canada prior to this one.”

The statement said H1N2 is not a food-related illness and is not transmissible to people through pork meat or other products that come from pigs. There is no risk associated with eating pork, the statement said.

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