Rare swine flu variant found in Manitoba

A human case of a rare flu strain usually found in pigs has been identified in Manitoba for the third time this year, though the cases don’t appear to be related. 

Provincial health officials say the single case of the H3N2 (H3N2v) influenza variant was found in southern Manitoba in early June, says a news release sent Monday. 

The individual had sought testing for COVID-19 after starting to show flu-like symptoms. That test came back negative for the coronavirus, but routine influenza surveillance processes discovered the individual had the flu strain. 

The person only had mild symptoms and has since recovered, the news release says. 

The case is isolated and is not linked to the other two human cases of rare swine flu variants that were announced in April, health officials said. 

The province is required report such cases to the Public Health Agency of Canada and to announce them publicly under international health regulations. 

Public health officials are still investigating how transmission in the June case occurred, but don’t believe it presents increased risk to Manitobans or the province’s food supply. 

Though rare, human cases of influenza viruses that normally circulate in pigs occur from time to time, the news release says. These viruses are not transmitted through eating pork meat or other products that come from pigs.

The detection of these cases in April and again June could be a result of increased respiratory illness surveillance that is being done because of COVID-19, the province said, though it may also reflect that more of these cases are occurring. 

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