Zika virus cases brought back to Canada are few, health officials say

Three Canadians, two in B.C. and the other in Alberta, have brought back the Zika virus after contracting it abroad, CBC News has learned.

WHO has said virus unlikely to spread in Canada due to absence of carrying mosquitoes

Mosquitoes that carry and transmit the Zika virus do not live in Canada due to climate and human to human transmission is rare. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Three Canadians have brought back the Zika virus recently after contracting it abroad, CBC News has learned.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said Wednesday that there have been no cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in Canada.

"I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that there are three cases in Canadians who have travelled to affected countries that have come back with documented cases of Zika virus," she said.

The CBC's Julie Van Dusen interviews Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott on the risk of the mosquito born Zika virus 2:18

Two of the cases are in B.C., one contracting the virus in El Salvador and the other in Colombia, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has confirmed to CBC News. According to a report in The Province, both persons have recovered, and neither case involved a pregnancy.

It was not immediately clear when either contracted the virus.

The other case is in Alberta, according to Alberta Health. The virus was contracted abroad, but the exact location is not immediately known, and the medical status of the person is not known. Health officials said there is no risk to public health in the province.

This marks the second lab-confirmed case of the virus in an Alberta native. A woman contracted the virus in 2013 after a visit to southern Thailand, believed to be the first ever documented case of a Canadian acquiring Zika abroad.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a rare birth defect that sees babies born with unusually small heads and can cause lasting developmental problems.

The mosquitoes that carry and transmit the virus do not live in Canada due to the climate, says Alberta Health, and human to human transmission is rare.

The World Health Organization has said that Canada and continental Chile are the only countries in the Americas where the Zika virus is unlikely to spread.


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