Statement from Chief Medical Officer of Health on Zika Virus


Today, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement:

“Ensuring that Ontarians are fully informed about emerging and infectious diseases such as Zika virus is a priority. Together with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other national and international partners, our ministry has been monitoring and assessing Zika virus. On Tuesday, Public Health Ontario received positive test results for Zika virus for an individual who had travelled to South America. This is the first confirmed case of Zika virus infection in Ontario.

From the beginning of the outbreak in Central and South America, we have taken steps to ensure our health system and our partners are prepared should a returning traveller be suspected of having the virus. That includes working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to ensure that individuals presenting with symptoms are tested as quickly as possible. We have also been working closely with health professionals and labs in Ontario to ensure that they have the most up to date information about the virus and how to care for individuals concerned about possible exposure.

Any individuals who have traveled to countries affected by Zika virus and are concerned that they might have contracted Zika virus should speak with their health-care provider, who can advise them if they need to be tested. Zika testing is currently being performed by Public Health Ontario and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

The risk to Ontarians remains very low, as the mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well-suited to our climate. Current evidence suggests that Zika virus is likely to persist and spread in the Americas and the South Pacific. Ontarians travelling to regions affected with Zika virus should protect themselves by taking protective measures to prevent mosquito bites and consult their health care provider before traveling. It is recommended that pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant discuss their travel plans with their health care provider to assess their risk and consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is circulating in the Americas.

The ministry will continue to update Ontarians and health care providers on the status of Zika virus as updates are received from the Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization and U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Additional background on the Zika virus:

On January 15, 2016, the Public Health Agency of Canada issued a Public Health Notice and a Travel Health Notice concerning Zika virus following confirmed travel-related cases of Zika virus infection in Canada originating from Central and South America.

Advice to Ontarians

Ontarians visiting affected areas should protect themselves against Zika virus by taking individual protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, protective clothing, mosquito nets, screened doors and windows. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection.