9 Canadians infected with Zika virus, Health Minister Jane Philpott says

The number of Canadians infected with the Zika virus has risen to nine, Health Minister Jane Philpott says.

Virus was contracted outside of Canada in all cases, with no local transmission, minister says

Health Minister Jane Philpott warns against travelling to countries that have been shown to have local transmission of the Zika virus. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The number of Canadians infected with the Zika virus has risen to nine, Health Minister Jane Philpott said Wednesday.

The minister said there have been no cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in Canada. 

"We can assume that they were most likely mosquito-borne, but they were all contracted [outside] the country, not local transmission," Philpott said.

The minister could not confirm whether the virus was or could be sexually transmitted.

​One of the cases has been confirmed in Alberta, and another two in B.C. that were contracted in El Salvador and Colombia, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease control. 

Health officials in both provinces have said there is no risk to public health in the province.

Philpott stressed people should be cautious when travelling abroad. 

Brazilian officials still say they believe there's a sharp increase in cases of microcephaly and strongly suspect the Zika virus, which first appeared in the country last year, is to blame. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)

"We encourage people if they are pregnant or could become pregnant that they consider postponing their trip, and if they feel that it's necessary to go ahead with their trip that they take all precautions to avoid daytime mosquito bites," said Philpott.

According to the World Health Organization, vaccines to protect against Zika virus are at least 18 months away from large-scale trials.

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

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

The World Health Organization has said that Canada is one of the few countries in the Americas where the virus is unlikely to spread.

More than 3,100 pregnant Colombian women are now infected with the Zika virus.