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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Genomic Surveillance of Pandemic H1N1 Influenza

  • Project Leaders: Robert Brunham, Jennifer Gardy, Judith Isaac-Renton, Patrick Tang
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $2264633
  • Program/Competition: Emerging Issues
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2009
  • Status: Closed

This project was initiated prior to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, in anticipation that the convergence of pandemic influenza (“swine flu” virus), seasonal influenza and the games threatened to create a public health challenge in BC. To mitigate this threat, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) was tasked with undertaking an accelerated pandemic vaccine initiative for the new H1N1 virus, much of which was funded by national and provincial agencies. This genomic and metagenomic research project aimed to pilot a genomic surveillance program for influenza. As a result of low incidence of H1N1, the project switched focus to add the monitoring of the measles outbreak, making it the first genomic epidemiology study of a measles outbreak. The project showed that the information provided by real-time genomic surveillance of an outbreak, such as emerging viral lineages of interest and metagenomics of co-infecting organisms in severe cases, can impact public health policy. BCCDC is uniquely positioned to translate the results of the surveillance project since it directly issues recommendations around clinical management, laboratory testing, vaccination and other public health interventions to the Province of BC, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and via PHAC to the CDC and WHO, communicating the findings on a daily basis to the global infectious disease and epidemiology communities.