Flu cases spike in Manitoba

Manitoba health officials were investigating a sudden spike in the number of people requiring intensive care for flu-like illnesses Monday, while Quebec reported its first death related to swine flu.

WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials were investigating a sudden spike in the number of people requiring intensive care for flu-like illnesses Monday, while Quebec reported its first death related to swine flu.

There were 26 Manitobans on ventilators due to flu as of Monday, and that’s in addition to the 30 or so people who are on ventilators on an average day for a wide variety of illnesses. The spike prompted the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to order 15 additional machines.

“We’re seeing a number of severe cases of influenza-like illness,” said Dr. Joel Kettner, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.

While the vast majority of people who have contracted the flu have not required hospitalization, the new swine flu seems to be hitting certain groups hard — aboriginals and people between 20 and 60, Kettner said.

Manitoba did not confirm any new cases of swine flu Monday. The provincial total remains at 40, none of which has been fatal. But Kettner said he expects most, if not all, of the recent serious cases will test positive.

Quebec health officials, meanwhile, reported the death of a woman over the age of 65. The unidentified woman from Quebec City is the province’s first death from swine flu and Canada’s fourth.

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