Toronto Public Health develops plan for "undiagnosed viral pneumonia" detected in China

Jan 7 2020, 11:56 am

Toronto Public Health has recently been informed of cases of undiagnosed viral pneumonia in central China, and are actively monitoring the situation.

The illnesses have been associated with a local live seafood market, and are being investigated by health authorities in the city of Wuhan. According to a release from the city, Chinese authorities have engaged the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist with the inquiry.

Currently, Toronto Pubic Health is not aware of any reported cases of this illness in Canada, and the overall risk to residents is considered very low.

However, considering Toronto Pearson International Airport is an international travel hub, Toronto Public Health, alongside provincial and national health agencies, are observing and monitoring the situation.

“We will continue to monitor and work collaboratively with our colleagues at the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Province who are the leads for this area,” said Doctor Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.

“This is a great example of our work behind the scenes to keep our residents healthy, safe and strong, and how public health is a key contributor to the sustainability of our whole health system.”

This unknown respiratory illness has been identified during the same time that local circulation of influenza is common in Toronto. Influenza, or the flu, can spread to others before symptoms even appear. When symptoms do arrive, they tend to include sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches.

Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Recovering from the flu usually takes anywhere from a week to 10 days, but for some people it can worsen pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease, or develop into more serious health problems such as pneumonia.

In rare circumstances, it can be fatal.

Toronto Public Health is advising the public to take the usual measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness, including:

  • Yearly influenza vaccination, available at clinics and pharmacies
  • Frequently and thorough hand-washing with soap and water, or an alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm, if you don’t have a tissue
  • Stay home if you are ill

Residents who return from recent international travel and become ill with respiratory signs and symptoms such as cough and fever are reminded to report their travel history to any health professional, or an emergency room, when they visit.