Canada’s Public Health Agency confirms there are four cases of the Zika virus in Canada.
Two of those cases are in B.C., one in Alberta and one in Quebec.
Health Canada is not disclosing where those four people travelled to, but earlier this week CKNW reported the B.C. cases involved people who had travelled to El Salvador and Colombia.
Officials are reminding people that there is ‘low risk’ to Canadians, and multiple agencies are watching closely.
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.
The virus can cause neurological problems and birth defects.
- All pregnant women on vacation in a country with the virus should see a doctor when they return;
- Pregnant women, or those considering pregnancy are encouraged to avoid the countries affected.
- The World Health Organization has detailed information on Zika and Pregnancy, which can be found here.
Unborn babies at greatest risk
At this time Health Canada says the greatest risk is to unborn babies because the virus can be transmitted from the mother to the unborn baby.
It also appears the virus can cause microcephaly in newborns, however that investigation to confirm the link between the virus and babies born with unusually small heads.
The risk is low in Canada
The Aedes mosquito transmits the Zika virus, a breed of mosquito not established in Canada.
Health Canada says our climate makes it unlikely they’ll make their way up here.
Currently there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, but work is underway to get there.
Symptoms of the virus
The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are mild fever and skin rash, usually accompanied by conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general malaise that begins 2-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. (World Health Organization).
Don’t get bitten
Health Canada also says the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito.
Read the Health Canada Guide to Insect Bite Prevention here.