Health

Update: H1N1 flu virus (human swine influenza) (09/05/03)

NB 596

May 3, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Department of Health asks the assistance of media outlets in distributing the following updated bulletin:

FREDERICTON (CNB) - There is one confirmed case of the H1N1 flu virus (human swine influenza) in New Brunswick. This case involves a person who had travelled from an H1N1 flu virus-affected area. The case was not severe enough to require hospitalization.

It is likely that there will be more confirmed cases in New Brunswick as the number of confirmed cases in Canada and around the world increases. As with regular influenza, once these numbers increase, it is normal to see some severe cases, including deaths.

Taking preventative action is the best way to stay healthy. This means washing your hands thoroughly and often, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve, and staying away from public areas if you are sick. Maintain your health by making healthy food choices, being physically active and getting enough sleep.

The use of masks by the public is not recommended; they have not been proven effective in reducing the risk of infection. There is even some risk that masks may spread the virus when people put their hands to their face to put the masks on and off.

"It is important to remember that daily activities should continue as normal," said Dr. Eilish Cleary, the chief medical officer of health. "You should go to school, work and socialize, as long as you do not have any symptoms."

Some schools in the United States have closed as a result of the spread of the virus, but all of Canada's chief medical officers agree that there is no scientific evidence to support doing likewise in Canada at this point.

"If a pandemic occurred and spread through a community to the extent that there were not enough school staff available, then a school could be forced to closed," Cleary said. "But right now, there is no reason to do so."

A toll-free information telephone number, available 24 / 7, has been set up for anyone who has questions about H1N1 flu virus: 1-800-580-0038.

Callers can receive information about the H1N1 flu virus and preventative measures. Callers will also have an opportunity to speak to a Telecare nurse if they are experiencing flu symptoms.

The symptoms of flu - such as fever, aches, fatigue and cough - usually begin within two to three days of contact with the virus and almost always begin within five days.

If seven days have gone by since you left Mexico or other H1N1 flu virus-affected areas, and you do not have flu-like symptoms, you have no reason to worry about the possibility of having contracted this virus. If you do develop flu-like symptoms, you may be contagious for up to seven days.

If you have flu-like symptoms and have recently travelled to an area affected by the H1N1 flu virus, such as Mexico, or have been in contact with someone who has contracted the H1N1 flu virus, it is important to avoid close contact with others for seven days after your symptoms start.

This is the time when the illness may spread to others. Stay home from work, school, public places and avoid social settings. Minimize contact with family members as much as possible.

As with any illness, should your symptoms worsen, visit your doctor, nurse practitioner, emergency department, or walk-in clinic and be sure to mention your travel history. For current information on travel health notices, warnings and advisories, visit, www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/pub-eng.php.

If you visit your doctor or nurse practitioner and he or she determines that you will require testing for the H1N1 flu virus, your nose will be swabbed. The swab will be taken to your hospital's laboratory, where it will be appropriately packaged and sent to the provincial pandemic laboratory at the Dr. Georges-L Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton.

When the sample arrives at the Dr. Georges-L Dumont Regional Hospital laboratory, initial tests for Influenza A take 24 to 48 hours to complete. If the result is "Influenza A untypeable," the patient's health-care provider will be advised and the sample will be sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for Influenza A-H subtyping.

This laboratory is one of only several worldwide recognized by The World Health Organization for this procedure. This national laboratory process is the same for all provinces in Canada and takes 36 to 48 hours to complete.

The results of this final test will then be sent to the Dr. Georges-L Dumont Regional Hospital laboratory, which will immediately advise the Department of Health and will fax a report to the requesting physician, nurse practitioner or the referring laboratory.

The entire process takes four to seven days for a positive result. Once the national laboratory has set standards in a couple of weeks from now, provinces and territories will begin processing the samples from start to finish at their own laboratories.

Your doctor or nurse practitioner will notify you if it is determined that you have the H1N1 flu virus.

Cleary said: "The treatment is the same for any flu: rest at home, drink plenty of fluids, and take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve aches and pains. The Canadian and New Brunswick governments have access to antiviral medications, but these are only appropriate for use in severe cases or contained residential settings such as a nursing home. Overuse or preventative use of antivirals could make them less effective in the future."

More information is available by calling the toll-free number, 1-800-580-0038, or by visiting http://www.gnb.ca/flu.

09/05/03

MEDIA CONTACT: flumedia@gnb.ca.

09/05/03