Avian Influenza Case in British Columbia

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza has been found in British Columbia, now there are two cases of the Avian Influenza or AI. Dr. Bonnie Henry British Columbian Deputy Provincial Health Officer and Dr. Gregory Taylor Canadian Chief Public Health Officer have both agreed that the second person with H7N9 has tested positive for it in British Columbia.

The problem does not seem large because the risk of person to person travel is low. This suggests they were exposed to the same source but not each other. Both of them recently returned from China. The two did not have symptoms on the plane, but started having symptoms after their arrival in Canada. The two did not require hospitalization and are recovering from the illness.

The people that the two were close to have all been identified, and are being monitored by the health police. The Canadian Healthcare System is free to citizens and it has effective procedures and controls in place in the case of infectious disease spread to contain and protect the workers.

The first person’s and second person’s diagnosis were both verified by different laboratories.  Each three days apart, the first case on Jan. 26 and the second on Jan. 29.

The technical name for this Avian Influenza is H7N9, and has been around since 2013 in China. Nearly all of the cases involve contact with poultry. There is no chance of catching H7N9 if the poultry eaten has been cooked well. Precautions people can take are to get an influenza shot every year, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect, and to prevent others from getting sick stay home.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said that the public health community has kept a close watch on the strain since 2013 when it came out. The first case was the pair, but the travel companion she was with has not been tested for Avian Influenza now that case is in British Columbia.

In Hong Kong, China a patient is 79, male, developed symptoms on Jan. 19, he went to a doctor the same day. Based on the facts it appears that the patient was infected outside of Hong Kong. The patient was said to have gone to a wet market with poultry but did not have any direct contact with any poultry. The overall risk for the virus has not been altered; it is still considered a low risk.

The World Health Organization, or WHO, advises that people whom travel to countries with known outbreaks of the virus that they should not come into any contact with poultry. Avian Influenza is commonly called bird flu because it is an infectious viral disease that birds get but can spread to humans. The first step to controlling diseases is to control the animals who have the disease, if they do have disease.

Dr. Gregory Taylor said that the Avian Influenza Case in British Columbia is not part of the yearly influenza. These cases are isolated. The Agency has notified the China, the World Health Organization and others about the cases as per International Health Agreements.

By Jacob Dowd


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