Via CTV News: H1N1 flu spike in Alberta prompts officials to open mass immunization centres. Excerpt:
A surge in the number of flu cases in Alberta, the majority of which involve the H1N1 strain, has prompted health officials in the province to open mass immunization centres over the holidays.
Between Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, the number of flu cases in the Edmonton area rose from 65 to 125, with H1N1 accounting for more than 90 per cent of the cases. The vast majority of the 250 flu cases reported in Calgary since the end of August have also been H1N1. Alberta health officials have already blamed the virus for at least two deaths.
Across Canada, seven deaths have been linked to the H1N1 virus so far. At least four of them involved adults between the ages of 45-64.
As of mid-December, hundreds of Canadians had already contracted the H1N1 flu.
Dr. Gerald Predy, senior medical officer for Alberta Health Services, says it is not unusual to see a spike in cases this time of year as people gather to spend the holidays together. However, he said that the province is still weeks away from peak season, and the recent increase in the number of cases is “just the tip of the iceberg.”
And because the outbreak features the H1N1 strain, he warns that everyone, including younger adults who often think they’re immune from the flu, should take steps to protect themselves.
“A lot of people think it’s the elderly who are at risk, but with H1N1 we just want to emphasize there is a serious risk of illness in other age groups,” he told CTV News Channel.
Back in 2009, H1N1 was a catastrophe for our First Nations reserves, where ill-housed people are crowded into shacks far from adequate health care. I hope the First Nations will do better this time around.