Lab Canada

Quebec researchers group contributes to knowledge about influenza A (H1n1) virus

Montreal, QC – Members of a group of Quebec researchers say they will be presenting the preliminary results of their work on Influenza A (H1N1) on Tuesday, September 15 at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, an American Microbiology Association meeting in San Francisco.

Their study was aimed at evaluating the contagious period of patients infected with the H1N1 virus. It was conducted on members of 65 Quebec families from May to July 2009. Among those infected with H1N1, as confirmed by laboratory tests, about 15% were still contagious on the eighth day after presenting symptoms, but no one was contagious after 10 days. These preliminary results will be complemented by studies under way on the blood samples and compared to the findings of studies conducted elsewhere in the world. As well, using new analyses of the data collected and blood samples taken during this study, other studies will be conducted, including one on the immune response of infected subjects and another on the proportion of people infected with H1N1 who present no symptoms.

The study to be presented tomorrow at the conference was headed by an interdisciplinary group of more than a dozen researchers from several Quebec universities and research centres. It was coordinated by two researchers and doctors: Dr Guy Boivin of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec and Dr Gaston De Serres of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec.

The research initiative was launched by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) in close collaboration with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), and made possible by funding of more than $250,000 from the Quebec ministries of Health and Social Services and Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade.

The FRSQ says that what makes the initiative unique is how quickly it was launched, in response to pressing public health questions. “The entire process, from mobilizing and putting together the research team to the scientific evaluation of the research project and its funding, was handled very quickly – in a matter of weeks – thanks to the FRSQ’s leadership,” said Dr Boivin.

“The FRSQ is proud of the speed with which the researchers and partners worked together. They were meticulous and flexible, proposing a research project in response to an important public health matter,” said Yves Joanette, president and CEO of the FRSQ. “The quick reaction was also made possible by the remarkable networking ability of Quebec researchers,” added Dr Howard Bergman, FRSQ’s vice-president and scientific director.