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Public Health Notice: H7N9 Avian Flu in China

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Apr 4, 2013) -

Why you should take note

On March 31, 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that three people in the People's Republic of China were infected by a new type of avian influenza virus identified as A(H7N9). All cases developed severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties, resulting in the death of two of the three cases. To date, the total number of confirmed cases of human infection with this H7N9 virus in China is nine including three deaths. Additional cases are likely to continue to be reported.

Risk to Canadians

The H7N9 flu virus causing illness in people in China has not been identified in birds in Canada.

There have been no reports of human illness in Canada associated with the H7N9 flu virus currently causing illness in China.

The risk posed to humans by avian influenza in birds is generally very low. Avian influenza does not transmit easily from birds to infect humans.

While there is no risk of catching the flu virus by eating affected poultry, Canada, in fact, does not import raw poultry or raw poultry products from China.

Canadians should protect themselves and their fellow citizens from seasonal/annual influenza by:

- Getting an annual flu shot;

- Washing hands frequently;

- Covering coughs and sneezes;

- Keeping common surfaces clean; and

- Staying home when sick.

What the Public Health Agency of Canada is doing

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.

An Agency medical expert is based in Beijing and is liaising with the Chinese infectious disease prevention authorities on this outbreak.

The Agency's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has access to the H7N9 whole genome sequence through the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID). This information allows the NML to rapidly detect the H7N9 flu virus.

The NML is also working closely with provincial laboratories to ensure they are also able to test for the H7N9 flu virus.

Additional information

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Public Health Agency of Canada information on avian influenza