WATCH: Health officials say there’s no reason to worry, but a Metro Vancouver woman is the first person in North America to contract avian flu. Rumina Daya reports.
North America’s first documented human case of H7N9, also known as avian flu, has been confirmed in British Columbia.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed that a resident of B.C. who recently returned from a trip to China was infected with the virus.
The individual, who has been identified as a female from the Lower Mainland, became sick after returning to Canada on Jan.12. The individual was not symptomatic during travel and only developed symptoms on Jan.14.
At that time, the individual sought medical attention but was not sick enough to require hospitalization.
The patient is now recovering in self-isolation. All of her close contacts have been identified and their health is being monitored by provincial public health authorities.
A man who traveled with the patient also had a similar influenza-like illness and has now recovered. His diagnosis has not yet been confirmed.
Authorities say they were travelling on Air Canada Flight 8. No other travel information has been made public.
B.C. health minister Terry Lake says the public should not be concerned even though this is the first such diagnosis in North America.
Health officials say the risk to Canadians is very low as there is no evidence to suggest that H7N9 transmits easily from person to person.
“It is extremely unlikely that we will see any additional cases here in B.C.,” says Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
H7N9 influenza is not the same as seasonal flu. It’s been found to circulate among birds. This particular strain of H7N9 has not been found in wild or domestic birds in Canada.
This particular type of avian influenza has not been previously seen in humans until China started reporting H7N9 infections in 2013.
WATCH: BC health officials hold a press conference to update the public on the health of the patients who tested positive for H7N9
Most of those cases reported contact with poultry, usually in live poultry markets.
The World Health Organization has been notified about the case by B.C. authorities.
Canadians are advised to consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before they travel.
If you are travelling to an area where avian influenza is a concern, avoid high-risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered, wash your hands frequently, practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette and monitor your symptoms.