Spread of Zika virus in Canada remote, says Philpott
Blood donation limitations put into place
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott is trying to calm fears about the outbreak of the Zika virus after three cases of the illness were confirmed in Canada.
Philpott says Canadians are being advised to avoid travel to countries affected by the virus, which can cause neurological problems and birth defects.
But the minister notes that the Canadian cases all involve patients who recently travelled in affected areas, and says the breed of mosquitoes known to spread the virus is not found in Canada.
Canada is expected to attend an emergency meeting hosted by the United Nations on Monday where health officials hope to come up with a plan to stop the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, Canadian Blood Services will stop accepting blood donations from people returning from countries hit by the outbreak.
Philpott says it’s still unclear whether the virus has actually been spread through blood products, but promises more information on that likelihood will be made public once it’s available.
“At this point I don’t know that we’re in a position to validate those concerns,” Philpott said Thursday outside the House of Commons.
“I would stay tuned and I’ll give further information as soon as I have it.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada is constantly monitoring the situation and front-line health workers are being told to be on the lookout for people who may exhibit symptoms, said Philpott.
“We’re in communication with all stakeholders including health care providers to make sure that people are aware of the appropriate symptoms that might put in mind a possible diagnosis of Zika virus and that people are tested appropriately for that,” said the minister.
A decision on which countries will be linked to the ban on blood donations is expected in the next few days.
The World Health Organization says the virus is “spreading explosively.”
A technician of the Fiocruz institute stores Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to be used in Zika virus research, in Recife, Brazil, Wednesday. As the federal government seeks to calm fears about the virus, Canadian Blood Services has said it will stop accepting blood donations from people returning from countries hit by the outbreak.