Nasty viral illness among Alberta wildfire evacuees increases, spreads

An outbreak of stomach flu is affecting people forced from their homes by the wildfire in the Fort MacMurray area.

EDMONTON — An outbreak of stomach flu is affecting people forced from their homes by the wildfire in the Fort MacMurray area.

Alberta Health Services said there were more than 110 cases of what appears to be viral gastroenteritis at some evacuation centres.

“This is not unexpected,” Dr. Chris Sikora, the medical officer of health for Edmonton said Tuesday.

“It will likely take about a week to resolve. We will monitor on a daily basis to see how many cases do show up.”

Sikora said as of Monday there were 105 cases reported in Edmonton, four cases in Calgary and nine in the central zone.

People were suffering from fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Sikora said steps were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading.

He said despite the illnesses the evacuation centres remain safe.

Alberta officials said two wildfires in the Fort McMurray area have joined, and estimate the size of fire at about 2,300 square kilometres.

The massive blaze was about 30 kilometres from the Saskatchewan boundary.

The Fort McMurray fire was being fought by 700 firefighters, 26 helicopters, 13 air tankers and 46 pieces of heavy equipment.