Community wary after death

A family friend of an Alberta woman who had swine flu along with other health problems when she died says members of the community where she lived are getting tested for the flu virus.

GIFT LAKE — A family friend of an Alberta woman who had swine flu along with other health problems when she died says members of the community where she lived are getting tested for the flu virus.

Edward Lamouche had a bad cough Saturday and said he was planning to go to a health centre to get tested.

“It’s probably just an ordinary cold, but I’m not taking chances because it (flu) can be dangerous,” he said in a telephone interview from the Gift Lake Metis Settlement, a small community about 400 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Provincial health officials haven’t named the dead woman, but Lamouche and other community members identified her as 39-year-old Tina L’Hirondelle.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Andre Corriveau, said doctors blamed chronic health conditions when the woman died April 28.

She had no history of travel to Mexico, where the outbreak began, and there was no evidence she’d had contact with anyone who’d been there.

It appears she passed the virus along to a relative who tested positive, but officials say there is no way to tell for sure.

Officials are still waiting for pathology reports to see what role the virus played in the woman’s death.

Media reports have identified the relative as L’Hirondelle’s mother. She is said to be in good health and recovering at home.

About 300 people attended L’Hirondelle’s funeral and Lamouche said most of the people in the community are now getting tested.

Nurses have been dispatched to the community and a clinic was set up to assess individuals with symptoms.

Anyone with severe symptoms would get antiviral medication. As of Thursday, two people had tested positive for swine flu.

Lamouche said the community isn’t panicking, but people are wary.

“They’re probably worried. I wouldn’t say scared, but it’s on everybody’s mind. They’re being cautious. That’s why I’m going.”

Lamouche said L’Hirondelle, who had lived in Edmonton for a number of years before returning to Gift Lake, was cheerful and popular.

“She was what you would call easy going and got along with everybody.”

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