Suspected H1N1 flu outbreak hits reserve

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A remote First Nations community has shut down its school over heightened concern a severe flu is spreading among area residents.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/06/2009 (4937 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A remote First Nations community has shut down its school over heightened concern a severe flu is spreading among area residents.

St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief David McDougall saidtoday an additional five children suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were flown to Winnipeg on Monday night.

Over the last week, seven people suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were medivaced to Winnipeg in the last week, including two pregnant women who were sent to St. Boniface Hospital’s intensive care unit. One woman lost her child as a result of the illness.

Health officials have flown in at least two additional nurses and two doctors to deal with the emerging respiratory crisis in the remote community, located 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Lab tests haven’t confirmed the cause of the illness, but public health officials suspect the respiratory virus could be H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu.

Residents have been told to avoid public gatherings and stay home if they’re sick to stop the spread of the disease. "There was a spike in the number of cases brought to the nurses’ station with flu-like symptoms," McDougall said. "It was a red flag."

St. Theresa Point community leaders held a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss how to pull together a pandemic plan.

McDougall said the community lacks the infrastructure to deal with a full-scale outbreak and that a potential pandemic could spread quickly since residents live in overcrowded homes.

He said community leaders are trying to quell public fear and keep residents from panicking. "There’s a respiratory problem and of course that’s always a concern," McDougall said. "We’re trying to figure out what the best response is."

McDougall said Health Canada and Manitoba Health are working with St. Theresa Point to investigate the spike in illnesses.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

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