Zika Virus Update – December 15, 2016


In mid-November, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Zika virus will no longer be treated as an international medical emergency. This statement was not a downgrade in the importance of Zika, but served as an acknowledgement that a long-term program is needed and that the search for a vaccine continues. In fact, they stressed that the mosquito-borne virus may rear its head again down the line.

Here in Canada, the risk of the Zika virus spreading locally continues to be negligible. To date, there have been:

  • two locally acquired cases of the virus through sexual transmission,
  • two maternal-to-fetal transmission cases, and
  • 382 travel-related Zika virus cases in Canada.

Planning a trip? Stay tuned to travel health notices when making your travel plans. The Public Health Agency of Canada currently recommends that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy continue to avoid travel to countries or areas of the United States with reported mosquito-borne Zika virus. If you are planning on travelling to such an area, ensure you protect yourself from mosquito bites.

On the research side of things, both the search for a vaccine and study of the virus is ongoing. Recently, CDC researchers have found evidence that the Zika virus can make thousands of copies of itself in fetuses’ brains and in the placentas of pregnant women, which may help explain how the virus causes devastating birth defects and pregnancy losses. This is the first time that we’ve seen the Zika virus’s RNA (genetic material) replicating in brain tissues of infants with microcephaly.

Source: WHO, CDC, Public Health Agency of Canada, and Forbes

As the Zika virus is no longer considered an international medical emergency, updates will be given on an as-needed basis through our social media channels. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay up-to-date and, as always, we’re happy to address any questions you may have!

Iridia in the Community 2016 – Part 2

Remembrance Day has has passed a couple weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop reflecting and honouring the sacrifices that veterans have made to protect us. Our second group of Iridians spent their time and resources to raise awareness to these heroes. Take a look at the video below to see how they made a difference:


When we asked Canadians about what they think of when they think about our Canadian troops, many pictured an image of a soldier in uniform, like an Air Force pilot or navy officer. However, many overlook the transition our veterans are going through from an active military career to a healthy, stable civilian lifestyle. This transition can be challenging as they can struggle with unemployment and coping with their physical and/or mental illnesses.

Our veterans have given the entirety of their lives to protect our country, our freedom, and our values. But when they come back, they struggle with many things that we take for granted:

  • Many veterans struggle with physical and mental illnesses.
  • Many veterans have difficulty finding steady jobs afterward.
  • Some veterans can end up losing their families and their homes.

Our veterans once fought for us. Iridia chooses to fight for them.

With our Iridia in the Community project, we have donated our funds to the Royal Legion of Canada and received poppy pins. Then, we took the poppy pins, shared these pins in advance of Remembrance Day, and encouraged conversations as to why we should honour our Canadian veterans. We can continuously show our support to organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion and Vets Canada by volunteering our time and showing financial support through donations. Also, you can share this video to your friends, family, and people around you so that we can raise awareness and start a conversation about veterans around us.

Together, let’s fight for those who have fought for us.

To see how other groups decided to make a difference, check out Part 1 and Part 3 of our Iridia in the Community initiative!

Iridia in the Community 2016 – Part 1

After a weekend, or in some cases an entire week, of shopping deals, Giving Tuesday is a day to step back and consider how our thankfulness can flow outward to those in need. With so many causes to stand up for, Iridia is launching our 3rd annual Iridia in the Community initiative. This initiative highlights our value of social responsibility by enabling employees to find ways to give back to their community.

This year, we’ve divided Iridians into three groups and challenged them to give back to their communities in a way that is meaningful to them. Take a look at the video below to see what one group is fighting for.


You and I may have to decide between pasta and rice for dinner. But hundreds of thousands of Canadians are faced with a much harder decision: groceries or rent. Poverty brings over 850,000 Canadians each year to food banks in order satisfy one of their most basic needs: safe, good-quality nutritious foods. And, 36% of these people are children and youth.

This year, as part of our Iridia in the Community, we chose to combat hunger. In Fort St. John, we donated $100 worth of gift certificates to the Women’s Resource Centre for their food bank.

In Vancouver, we will be volunteering at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and have started a virtual food bank fundraiser. For every $1 donated, the food bank will be able to buy up to $3 worth of food. Join us in this fight against hunger by donating to your local food bank or by helping us hit our $500 goal. If you donate food, please ensure that it matches your food bank’s needs. Contact your local food bank and see how they could use your support.

Spread the word and raise awareness as to how you can help this holiday season. Talk about it. Share this video. Together, we hope to make a difference.

To see how other groups decided to make a difference, check out Part 2 and Part 3 of our Iridia in the Community initiative!

Zika Virus Updates – September 15, 2016

2016-09-15-zika-virus-updatesIt has been a whirlwind of news when it comes to the Zika virus over this last month and we’ve compiled the top and most relevant points for you here.

  • To date, there are 2 locally acquired Zika cases through sexual transmission, 2 maternal-to-fetal transmission cases, and 250 travel-related cases in Canada (+45 since last report). The virus is currently not actively transmitting in Canada and is not expected to, due to the unlikeliness of Aedes mosquitoes surviving in Canada.
  • A Zika outbreak occurred in Singapore in late August and has since surged to over 300 confirmed cases. The CDC has issued a travel advisory to practice enhanced precautions when travelling to this country.
  • A new study from Rockefeller University found that the Zika virus can also affect adult brain cells in mice, suggesting the potential for Zika to hold long-term neurological implications for adult humans.
  • New research data has shown that traces of Zika virus can be retained up to a week longer in urine than in blood. As a result, the CDC has recommended that doctors conduct urine tests when checking patients who show Zika infection symptoms.

With Zika transmission actively occuring in 58 countries and territories, check the CDC travel advisory for the latest information if you are looking to travel to one of them.


Source: WHO, CDC, Public Health Agency of Canada, and Forbes

As always, we’re here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the Zika Virus. Feel free to leave us a comment below!

Zika Virus Updates – August 16, 2016

Zika Virus Updates - August 16, 2016The biggest Zika news of the month is no doubt the landing of local transmission in the continental US. What does that mean for Canada? As we do every month, we’ve compiled a list of pertinent updates for you below.

Updated as of August 15, 2016

  • To date, Canada has seen two locally acquired cases of Zika infection through sexual transmission, two maternal-to-fetal cases of transmission, and 205 travel-related cases (+62 since last month). However, there are no documented cases of Zika infections in Canada from local mosquitoes.
  • The United States has reported its first cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in the continental US. This currently only affects a limited area in South Florida.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has increased travel levels of risk related to Zika Virus from Level 1 to Level 2.
    Zika Virus Travel Risk Level - Aug 16, 2016
    As of August 12, 2016, travelers should exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, South America, Southeast Asia, Ocean Pacific Islands, and limited areas in North America and West Africa. For more details about travel risks and travel health notices, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Source: WHO, CDC, and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Questions? Comments? We’re always happy to hear from you, so leave us a note below!

Zika Virus Update – July 15, 2016

Zika Virus Updates - July 15, 2016
Another month, another Zika Virus update! See below for the latest new about the virus.

Updated as of July 15, 2016

  • To date, there is one locally-acquired case of the Zika virus and 143 travel-related cases in Canada (+29 since last month). There are no documented cases of Zika infections in Canada or the continental U.S. from local mosquitoes.
  • A Utah resident infected with the Zika virus has died, becoming the first Zika-related fatality in the continental U.S. The elderly victim, who had other underlying health conditions, died in late June after traveling to a country where the mosquito-transmitted virus is active. It is currently unclear whether Zika was the cause of the death.

Source: CDC, WHO, Public Health Agency of Canada

As always, we are happy to address any questions or comments you may have – leave us a note below and we’ll get back to you. Until then, stay tuned on our Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for our next update!

Vote For Your Community Hero

Community Hero Award 2016

Iridia has always been invested in empowering people to save lives by providing the public with the right tools, education, and resources. But let’s face it. We can’t do it alone. Our communities rely on everyday heroes whose dedication to safety may never reach the spotlight, but who donate their time and resources anyway to make their communities a safer place.

This year, in celebration of Iridia Day (July 7th), we are looking to celebrate the achievements of those who have demonstrated excellence towards public health and safety in their community and provide them with a way to give back more. We have been collecting nominations over the last week and, today, we are proud to present to you the top 3 finalists. Read their stories and vote for who you believe should win the award.

  1. Amanda Ockeloen and Bawn Campbell of the Rotary Club of Bowen Island
    The Rotary Club of Bowen Island has started an extensive Community Public Access to Defibrillation Program. This would not have been possible without the two AED Champions who drove this project forward: Bawn Campbell and Amanda Ockeloen. Their dedication to increasing the survival rate of Sudden Cardiac Arrest provided the energy and drive for the Club’s tireless work over the last few years in expanding Bowen Island’s AED program to 8 units. Together with the community, they worked on placing the AEDs, protecting them from the elements with their signature AED Bird Houses, as well as training the community in both CPR and AED use.
  2. Whole Way House
    Whole Way House is a Vancouver-based charitable society that serves approximately 85 low-income tenants in the Downtown Eastside. Working with residents transitioning out of homelessness, most of whom struggle with mental illness and/or addiction, can create a high risk environment. As a result, they have worked hard to bring in available safety training to empower and educate their volunteers and residents for emergency situations. Their recent efforts have already enabled peace of mind in one incident where a volunteer helped a resident suffering from a seizure. Whole Way House’s work in furthering the belief that everyone should feel safe in their own home is taking strides in bringing about a culture of health and safety to their Downtown Eastside residents.
  3. YVR – Vancouver International Airport
    Vancouver Airport Authority promotes health and safety to employees and travellers alike. They have placed AEDs in accessible and convenient locations across the airport, they actively raise awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and they provide opportunities for their employees and travellers to learn more about CPR skills. Their AED program has already seen benefits, with multiple lives saved over the last year. And that’s just one of their initiatives. Their heart for health and safety can also be seen in their President’s Award for Safety Excellence program, where employees are encouraged to create innovative safety solutions.

Submit Your Vote

Thanks for everyone who voted! Voting is now closed – stay tuned for the announcement of the winner on Thursday, July 7th!

Create your own user feedback survey

Zika Virus Update – June 15, 2016

Zika Virus Updates - June 15, 2016
So far, there are no local mosquitoes transmitting the Zika Virus in the continental US or Canada, but there is mounting international concern over the virus as the Rio Olympics draw closer. We’ve compiled the latest updates into bite-sized chunks for you here:

Updated as of June 15, 2016

  • To date, there is one locally-acquired case of the Zika Virus through sexual transmission and 114 travel-related cases in Canada (+47 since last month). However, there are no documented cases of locally-transmitted Zika infections in Canada or the continental US.
  • On June 07, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on preventing sexual transmission of the Zika Virus. They suggest that women in Zika-infested areas should delay pregnancy, citing mounting evidence that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed.
  • The WHO rejected a call to move the Rio Olympics, despite health experts urging the UN agency to take action over concerns that the Games will speed up the spread of the virus.
  • U.S. health officials and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) plan to send a rapid-response team to any community on the mainland and in Hawaii if the mosquito-borne Zika Virus begins to be transmitted locally. Six states – Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas – are being watched closely.

Source: WHO, CDC, and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Have any questions or feedback? Let us know in the comments section!

Zika Virus Update – May 16, 2016

Zika Virus Update - May 16, 2016

While there are still no transmission of the Zika virus from local mosquitoes, researchers have continued working towards understanding the virus. Breakthroughs have occurred in both finding out how the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, as well as developing a low-cost and rapid system for detecting the virus. See below for details of the latest updates:

  • To date, there is one locally acquired Zika virus case through sexual transmission and sixty-seven travel-related cases in Canada (+21 from last month). There are no documented cases of Zika infections in Canada or the continental U.S. from local mosquitoes.
  • Scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed a new system to detect the Zika virus in humans: a low-cost, rapid, paper-disc diagnostic tool that screens blood, urine, or saliva samples for specific strains of the virus. A change in colour to purple means that the virus is present, while yellow shows that the sample is free from infection.
  • Researchers at the University of California San Diego have found that the Zika virus could cause microcephaly by activating TLR3, a molecule that is normally used to defend against invading viruses. In turn, the hyper-activated TLR3 molecules turn off genes that stem cells need to specialize into brain cells and turn on genes that trigger cell suicide. Inhibiting this mechanism has been shown to reduce brain cell damage, which hints at a new possible therapeutic approach to mitigating the effects of prenatal Zika virus infection.

What does this mean for you?

To prevent sexual transmission of the Zika virus, Vancouver Coastal Health is recommending that:

  • Men returning from Zika virus affected areas should avoid unprotected sexual activity for 6 months, or, if their partner is pregnant, for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Women exposed to the Zika virus either through travel or sexual contact are advised to wait at least 2 months to attempt conception.

Source: CDC, WHO, Public Health Agency of Canada, NBC, and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Please leave us any questions, or feedback you may have in the comments below and stay tuned next month for our next update!

Zika Virus Update – April 21, 2016

Zika Virus Updates - April 21, 2016The CDC has confirmed that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly. However, there is still no proof of a direct link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). We have summarized the most pertinent updates for you below:

Updated as of April 21, 2016

  • The CDC has confirmed the Zika virus as a cause of microcephaly. In CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden’s words, “There is still a lot that we don’t know [about Zika], but there is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly.”
  • There are no changes in the CDC guidelines regarding the Zika virus, but pregnant women are discouraged from travelling to any area where the Zika virus is widespread.
  • The WHO confirmed that sexual contact can spread the Zika virus for at least three weeks after the initial infection. However, the exact period for protected sex remains undefined.
  • The Zika virus’s association with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and other severe nervous system disorders has expanded the risk group. While the WHO has reported increased cases of GBS from Brazil, further research is needed to confirm a direct link.
  • Since the last update, local mosquito transmission has been reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
  • To date, there are zero locally acquired and forty-six travel-related Zika virus cases in Canada (+24 since last month). This includes two pregnant women in BC who recently went to a trip in South America and they are currently being closely monitored.

Source: CDC, WHO, & the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave us a comment below! If not, stay tuned next month for our next Zika virus update.