Six swine flu cases confirmed in Canada
Published Sunday, April 26, 2009 11:27PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 10:45PM EDT
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says the federal government will take whatever measures are necessary to keep the public safe, after confirming six cases of swine flu in Canada.
Four of the cases are in Nova Scotia and another two in British Columbia.
"These are Canada's first confirmed cases, but as we continue to ramp up our surveillance efforts, these cases are likely not the last we'll see in Canada," Aglukkaq told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa late Sunday afternoon.
The health minister said the government is well-prepared to handle the situation.
"I want to assure all Canadians that we are following the plans and the protocols that we have prepared in advance for an event like this," Aglukkaq said. "We will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect Canadians and their families with this illness."
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, said the six affected Canadians have already started to recover from their illness.
"The symptoms in all cases were mild. These were not severe respiratory illnesses," he said. "All have recovered and appear to be doing well."
He urged Canadians to practice "good flu prevention techniques," through frequent hand-washing, coughing into one's sleeve or arm, and staying home when sick, to avoid affecting others.
B.C. confirmed its two cases, both young men, at a separate press conference earlier Sunday afternoon.
Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, told reporters both of the affected B.C. residents live in the Lower Mainland, and both have recently travelled to Mexico.
None of the cases seen in B.C. are as severe as those seen in Mexico, she said.
The B.C. infections were initially identified as a non-typeable influenza A, and they have since been confirmed as swine flu cases.
Skowronski said respiratory illnesses are not uncommon at this time of year, and that health officials "don't want to make people unnecessarily alarmed."
In Nova Scotia, health officials say four confirmed cases of swine flu have been identified within the province, all from the same high school. Two of the students recently travelled to Mexico, which has suffered fatalities from the virus.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief public health officer, said the Nova Scotia cases are considered "mild" cases of the flu and the affected persons are now recovering.
"These case are mild, no one in Nova Scotia has been hospitalized because of the illness.
All those who have been affected are recovering," Strang said at a news conference on Sunday afternoon. "At this point, we're not seeing severe cases like that occurring in Mexico. We're consistent with the United States where we're seeing very mild illness from the swine flu."
Strang said that the four confirmed cases are students attending King's-Edgehill School, a private high school in the Windsor, N.S., area.
The pair of affected students who went to Mexico were traveling with at least 20 people on a school trip from April 1 to 8.
Later Sunday afternoon, school headmaster Joseph Seagram told reporters that 17 students and four staff members are in quarantine.
Two of the staff members are in quarantine at the school, while the other two remain at home, he said.
Seagram also said that only one of the students with swine flu had attended the trip to Mexico, contradicting the data given by the province's chief public health officer.
Strang stressed that the Canadians who have fallen ill with swine flu have, so far, only very mild symptoms.
"The swine flu that we're seeing outside of Mexico is very mild," he said.
Strang said local health authorities are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and related agencies across Canada, to monitor the swine flu issue.
Mexico has had the highest number of swine flu cases since April 13. There have been 103 deaths believed to be from the virus. In total, more than 1,600 people have become ill.