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 Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP execute search warrant; illegal drugs seized

Two Wetaskiwin residents have been charged with possession and trafficking of Methamphetamine.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Most Read