H1N1…Should we worry?

May 12, 2009

The Public Health Agency of Canada has released the following info on H1N1 Flu (also know as the “Human Swine Flu”):

H1N1 Flu Virus (Human Swine Flu) has been reported in Canada, Mexico, the United States and other countries around the world.  Swine influenza is a strain of the influenza virus that usually affects pigs, but which may also make people sick.  It is not, however, transmitted by eating pork.  H1N1 Flu Virus (Human Swine Flu) is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal flu.  The symptoms include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat.  Some people with H1N1 Flu Virus have also reported vomiting and diarrhea.  The virus is contagious and the recommendations to avoid infection are the same as for regular seasonal influenza – frequent handwashing, getting an annual flu shot, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill.

It is too soon to call this a Pandemic.  We should note that influenza pandemics vary from mild, moderate to severe.  Although, antiviral medications are available, such as Tamiflu (Oseltamavir) and Relenza (Zanamavir), these medications are restricted for moderate to severe cases of the Swine Flu.  Current vaccinations for the Human Influenza virus are not likely effective against swine flu, but vaccines will be developed against the swine flu if pandemic status should arise.  Most cases in Canada and the US have been mild as compared to the cases in Mexico.  So far there has been one death linked to the flu in Canada and four people hospitalized, while the majority of cases have been mild.  

As of today (Monday, May 11, 2009), the total of confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases in Canada rose to 330, with 46 new cases added during the day.  The province of Ontario confirmed 34 new cases since Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 110, the most among all provinces.  All of the new cases are mild.  Fifty-six of the 110 cases are males and 54 females.  Other new cases were reported by Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia. 

We would like to hear your thoughts on H1N1.  Please email your opinions to submit@cslsr.ca for the chance to be featured in the next CSLSR quarterly newsletter.