Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a statement today regarding a case of influenza detected in Ontario.

“An Ontario resident has been confirmed as having been infected with an H1N1 variant (H1N1v) influenza virus. An influenza virus that normally circulates in animals is referred to as a variant virus when it infects humans.

This adult male patient became ill after close contact with pigs. He is being treated and closely monitored in a hospital in southwestern Ontario.

I would like to reassure Ontarians that this variant influenza virus rarely spreads from animals to humans. Subsequent human-to-human transmission is also rare. I would also like to stress that this is not a food safety issue; the consumption of properly cooked pork continues to be safe.  Proper cooking of meats, including pork, kills all bacteria and viruses.

Ontarians should remember that hand washing is the single best infection prevention and control measure against respiratory illnesses such as influenza. Individuals should wash their hands often with soap and running water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.

I also would like to remind Ontarians that it is important to get immunized every year with the seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available each fall. This will protect you against seasonal influenza viruses that are expected to circulate. Everyone six months of age and older should get the seasonal flu vaccine each year.

The identification of this case is the result of the strength of our current surveillance system here in Ontario. It is not an unexpected occurrence and there have been a number of human infections with variant influenza viruses in the United States over the past year.

I would like to thank health officials in Ontario who displayed the utmost vigilance in identifying, treating and closely investigating this case. Protecting the health of Ontarians is a priority and we will continue to monitor the situation.”