Swine Flu Now Here In Canada

26 April 2009 at 5:04 pm (Beauty, Health & Fitness, News, World Issues) (, , , , , , , , , , )

OTTAWA — Canadian health officials are rushing to contain the spread of swine flu through human contact after at least a half-dozen cases were confirmed in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

 Cases in both provinces were linked to Mexican travel — but unlike the deadly outbreak in that country, the illnesses in Nova Scotia and B.C. patients were so mild that none required hospitalization.

 “These cases are likely not the last we’ll see in Canada,” federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq warned at an Ottawa news conference.

 She said she’ been in touch with her provincial and territorial counterparts and has ordered the Public Health Agency of Canada to alert border authorities, quarantine officers and other officials.

 For the time being, however, Aglukkaq told the general public to concentrate on “important but very simple precautions.”

 They include the standard advice for people to wash their hands frequently, cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze and stay home and avoid contact with others if they feel ill.

 The minister also advised anyone who has recently visited Mexico and has developed flu-like symptoms to see a doctor without delay.

 In Vancouver, Danuta Skowronski, of B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control, told reporters that so far there is no sign in Canada of the severe respiratory illness that Mexico has been grappling with.

 “This swine influenza virus does not automatically mean hospitalization and death,” she said. “It may have just the typical influenza-type presentation and symptoms . . . This is not necessarily scary monsters.”

 But, like Aglukkaq, she warned that Canadian experts expect more cases in this country and said the public-health system remains on high alert.

 Skowronski said the two people on the B.C. Lower Mainland who have contracted the flu have been asked to “self-isolate” but have not been quarantined.

 Four students from King’s-Edgehill School, a private high school in Windsor, N.S., have been placed in isolation. Two of them recently travelled to Mexico. Health authorities in Nova Scotia say their symptoms are mild.

 The illness has proven itself to be potentially deadly. Up to 86 people have died in Mexico as a result of swine flu. About 1,300 have been diagnosed with the sickness since April 13.

 Health authorities in Nova Scotia said Sunday the students reported fatigue, muscle aches and coughing, but nothing out of the ordinary for people who suffer from the flu.

 Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the four “very mild” cases of swine flu were detected in students ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18. All are recovering, he said.

 “It was acquired in Mexico, brought home and spread,” Strang said.

 Health officials urged anyone who thinks they might be ill with flu-like symptoms to stay away from work or school, wash their hands and avoid coughing into their hands.

 Although four students at the school have reported getting sick, only two of them went on a school trip to Mexico between April 1 and 8.

 Health officials say between 20 and 23 students were on the trip.

 “We have to keep things in perspective — it is a mild illness,” Strang said.

 Although health officials say four students have tested positive for swine flu, 11 of 17 students they have contacted so far who were on the trip to Mexico did get ill.

 Because swine flu is so new, most laboratories don’t have tests to identify them, and they show up as untypeable influenza A when tests are run.

 Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told CTV the federal cabinet has set up an operations committee and has been monitoring the swine flu situation closely.

 Foreign Affairs has posted information on its website on the health situation in Mexico but is not telling Canadians to stay away from the country.




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