Manitoba Identifies Human Cases Of Influenza Variants Normally Found In Pigs

May 03, 2021

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Two separate cases of variant influenza viruses have been found in two unrelated individuals in different communities in southern Manitoba.

One is a case of human influenza A(H1N2)v and one is a case of human influenza A(H1N1)v, which are rarely seen in humans. These two flu viruses are related to influenza viruses that circulate in pigs.

While these investigations are ongoing, the current assessment is that there is no increased risk to Canadians or the food supply chain at this time.

The viruses were detected in early April after the two individuals independently sought testing after developing an influenza-like illness. The tests came back negative for COVID-19. Both had either direct or indirect exposures to pigs.

Based on available evidence, the current assessment is that there is no increased risk to people, with no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission at this time.

In a statement, Manitoba Pork says that H1N1 and H1N2 are not food-borne illnesses and neither virus can be transmitted by eating pork. The group is reminding hog farmers to continue to follow biosecurity protocols, including frequent handwashing, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, and avoiding contact with livestock if you have flu-like symptoms.

Sporadic human cases of variant influenza have been reported over the past decade in North America.

Human influenza A(H1N2)v is rarely seen in humans, with only 29 cases reported globally since 2005, and no cases in Canada until one was reported in Alberta in October 2020. Human influenza A(H1N1)v is also rarely seen in humans. This is the second ever case reported in Canada; the first was reported in Ontario in September 2012. Two human influenza A(H1N1)v cases were detected in the U.S. during the 2020-21 season.

Health officials, in conjunction with Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, have launched a public health investigation to determine the source of the viruses and to verify that no spread has occurred. The Manitoba government will also continue working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other partners across Canada to share information about these cases.

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