Government of Canada Identifies New Strain of Influenza in Hog Farm Workers

The Government of Canada is working closely with the Province of Saskatchewan to assess the public health risk from a new strain of influenza that has been detected in the province.

The new strain was detected in two workers on a hog farm in Saskatchewan. The workers suffered only mild illness and have recovered fully. A third case is under investigation. Scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg have determined that the new strain is made up of genes from human seasonal flu and swine flu viruses. It is not a new strain of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus currently circulating in Canada.

"We are working closely with the province of Saskatchewan to learn as much as we can about this new flu virus," said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. "Preliminary results indicate the risk to public health is low and that Canadians who have been vaccinated against the regular, seasonal flu should have some immunity to this new flu strain."

Initial testing of some of the pigs on the farm suggests they were infected with swine influenza A virus, a common flu found in swine herds. There is no evidence that this new human strain of the virus is present in the swine herd.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with Saskatchewan public health officials on further surveillance of workers in Saskatchewan's hog industry, including those on the affected farm. PHAC is prepared to provide field epidemiological assistance to Saskatchewan. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is providing advice to the province on swine herd surveillance. CFIA is also providing further diagnostic support to the initial testing performed by the Province at the national reference laboratory in Winnipeg.

"As required under the WHO's International Health Regulations, Canada has notified the WHO about the detection of this novel influenza virus," said Dr, David Butler Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "The Government of Canada remains vigilant and we will continue to keep Canadians informed of any new developments."

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada