H5N1 - AVIAN INFLUENZA

March 26, 2004

An information meeting regarding Avian Influenza organized by the National Joint Council was held on March 18, 2004. What follows is information that may be of interest to our members.

Please note that while this information may useful to all members, it may be of particular interest to those who may be required to travel in Asia. Only those members required to travel on behalf of the employer may avail themselves of the services of the Workplace Health and Public Safety Program's Travel Medical Clinic of Health Canada. It goes without saying that few of our members will be called upon by the employer to travel to areas where outbreaks have been confirmed. For those members who for personal reasons must travel to a region where avian influenza has been confirmed, in particular avian influenza (H5N1), we encourage you to take advantage of the available information, including information available on the websites listed below. We recommend that you contact a medical professional if you require further information.

EXTRACTS FROM A HEALTH CANADA DOCUMENT

Current situation

Health Canada continues to closely monitor occurrences of avian influenza A (H5N1) or 'bird flu' outbreaks in several Asian countries. Outbreaks have been confirmed in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Indonesia. The outbreaks have affected millions of chickens in these countries combined. In addition, reports indicate that ducks have also been infected. Reports of infection in pigs have not been confirmed.

There have been a small number of human cases and deaths in Vietnam and Thailand.

There are also flocks of poultry in the United States and Canada infected with other strains of avian influenza virus. There is no evidence to date that there is illness in humans from this strain of avian influenza, but appropriate precautions have been taken to protect human health.

You can find up-to-date information (including numbers of cases and countries involved) on the avian flu (H5N1) situation worldwide on the World Health Organization website at:

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/

You can also find information on avian outbreaks at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) website at:

http://www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm

There is additional information available on Health Canada's Travel Medicine Program website at:

http://www.travelhealth.gc.ca

For more information about avian flu, please see Health Canada's website at:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/diseases/flu/avian.html

and the Canadian Food Inspection website at:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/avflu/avflufse.shtml