If you suspect you have swine flu, stay home, call Health Link: expert

Two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Alberta.

Two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Alberta.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. André Corriveau said the individuals were in Calgary and northern Alberta, they had a mild form of the flu and have since recovered.

He wouldn’t say where in northern Alberta the individual was from, give sexes or ages of those who were infected. He would only confirm that the two individuals had recently travelled to Mexico, they were not elderly people and did not need to be hospitalized. Corriveau said that no one has been quarantined as a result of the infections, but health staff are keeping a close eye on family members of those who were infected.

The provincial lab was up and running Monday night and was able to identify the two cases. Besides Alberta, there have been four confirmed cases in Ontario, four in Nova Scotia and three in B.C.

Corriveau stressed that if people have travelled to Mexico and feel well then there is nothing that they have to do.

“We recommend anyone with a fever or cough who has returned from a recent trip to Mexico to recover from their illness at home, and call Health Link Alberta before seeking medical attention,” he said.

The Health Link number is 1-866-408-5465. Corriveau said health officials are trying to avoid the spread of the virus by keeping it out of hospitals and seniors’ facilities.

A group of Red Deer College students, two instructors and a volunteer will be flying out from Leon, Mexico, this evening, then to Houston and Calgary. RDC staff have been meeting with health services people on campus and Alberta Health Services to determine the protocol for the students upon returning home.

Brenda Munro, director of continuing education at RDC said the group is feeling fine. “They’re concerned, of course as we are, but not panicked in any way. This is strictly precautionary in nature for us,” she said.

In the first week of the trip the group was able to visit different schools and preschool programs, but Monday the Mexican government shutdown the public school system. RDC students were still able to visit the orphanage and private schools if they felt comfortable this week doing so.

It doesn’t appear Central Albertans are overly concerned about the swine flu. A number of calls to local pharmacists showed that few were getting questions about the swine flu and most that normally stocked masks still had some in stock.

One might expect a local Red Cross Personal Preparedness workshop set for May 7 might be swamped with calls. But local Red Cross Branch Manager Rhonda Schwab said they haven’t seen increased interest in the workshop at the Red Cross Office. She said if there is an increased interest they will look at holding more workshops, which they can also do for businesses or organizations that want to help prepare their staff.

Martin Pollard, with the Red Cross, said people are required to be able to look after themselves for 72 hours after a disaster. As part of the workshop in May the Red Cross will be looking at pandemic preparedness, with small reminders for people to stay home if they are feeling sick, how to wash their hands properly and cough properly into their shoulder rather into their hands.

Pollard said the workshop will look at identifying risks in a community, developing a plan and creating emergency kits for many situations.


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