Canadian health officials today confirmed that an individual in B.C. has tested positive for the H7N9 avian influenza strain. The individual recently returned to Canada from China. This is the first documented case of H7N9 infection in a human in North America.

Influenza A (H7N9) virus/CDC
Influenza A (H7N9) virus/CDC

The risk to Canadians of getting sick with H7N9 is very low as evidence suggests that it does not transmit easily from person-to-person.

The individual is a resident of British Columbia and was not symptomatic during travel and only became sick after arrival in Canada. The individual did not require hospitalization and is currently recovering from their illness, in self-isolation.

All close contacts of the individual have been identified and their health is being monitored by provincial public health authorities. The Canadian healthcare system has strong procedures and controls in place to respond to and control the spread of infectious diseases and protect healthcare workers.

The diagnosis of H7N9 was confirmed by both B.C.’s provincial laboratory and the Agency’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

The Agency works closely with its national and international partners, including the WHO, to track all types of flu activity in Canada and around the world.

Though the individual was not symptomatic, and H7N9 does not transmit easily from person-to-person, the Agency is committed to ensuring Canadians have all the information they need, as a result, we are sharing the flight number.  The individual was on Air Canada flight 8.

Related: Canada’s Minister Of Health, Rona Ambrose, Talks About H5N1 Avian Flu

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health said, “Today we are confirming the first case of H7N9 in humans in North America.   We continue to work with our national and international partners to track infectious disease outbreaks in Canada and around the world to ensure the health and safety of Canadians.  Public Health Agency of Canada continues to advise and emphasize that H7N9 does not spread easily from person to person and the risk remains very low.”