Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Virus likely in Manitoba: expert

Doctors, nurses on alert for signs of disease

  • Print

SWINE flu has likely arrived in Mani­toba -- it just hasn't made anyone se­verely ill yet. That was the message from the prov­ince's top medical official Wednesday, as global experts sounded the alarm bell that human swine flu is one step closer to be­coming a worldwide pandemic.

Manitoba's chief medical officer Dr. Joel Kettner said he has no doubt the human swine flu virus is circulating in the province, considering the number of Manitobans who frequent Mexico and the fact the viral outbreak has cropped up in other Canadian provinces.

So far, there have been nine suspected cases of swine flu in Manitoba, but all tested negative for the virus.

Doctors and nurses across the province are on the lookout for patients with symp­toms of severe respiratory illness who have recently travelled to Mexico, includ­ing patients with a high, persistent fever, shortness of breath and chest pain.

"I have no doubt that it is in Manitoba, in people," Kettner said. "It's showing up all across Canada, it's showing up all around the world, so I think it's probably here too."

The growing threat of swine flu has raised questions about whether Manitoba is doing enough to screen people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Winnipegger Mike Babinsky spent a week in the Cancun sun with his wife and two sons at the end of March, where his 13-year-old fell ill with a serious cough and fever. The symptoms persisted, and three weeks ago a Winnipeg doctor pre­scribed Babinsky's teen with an inhaler.

By the time reports of the human swine flu surfaced, Babinsky said his other son started coughing. That was enough to prompt another visit to the doctor for both of the boys, where Babinsky said the phys­ician refused to test the boys for swine flu. "We're in Mexico, we're close to pigs, they're coughing, they had the flu," Babin­sky said, noting his sons went to school while they were coughing. "If you're not going to screen, (is that) why we don't we have any confirmed cases in Manitoba? We went to the doctor and we asked for it."

Kettner said the province is not screen­ing every traveller returning from Mexico or every Manitoban with mild symptoms of swine flu, saying it's impractical and a po­tential waste of resources. The province's pandemic plan focuses on detecting and treating people who are severely ill, since people with mild symptoms will recover.

Kettner said most people know when they feel sick enough to need a doctor, and anyone with mild flu-like symptoms shouldn't panic. Manitobans can prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and coughing or sneezing in the crook of their arm to con­tain the spread of germs.

Family doctors and clinics have been directed to put a mask on anyone who fits the bill for severe respiratory illness, and phone an emergency room to alert staff the patient is en route. Hospital staff are directed to put any patient with a suspect­ed case of swine flu in isolation, and use gloves and gowns when interacting with the patient.

Every province considered testing everyone returning from Mexico with few or no symptoms of swine flu, Kettner said.

"It would be a huge waste of time, money, and we wouldn't have the lab tests when we need them or when there's clus­ters or outbreaks."

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.
  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google