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July 30, 2009
For immediate release
Department of Health Teams up with Canada Games on H1N1 Planning
“With up to 4,000 athletes and thousands of volunteers working in close proximity, we will be monitoring the Games closely,” says Dr. MacKenzie. “Effective guidelines and protocols are critical to effective management of any H1N1 exposure.”
The Department of Health continues to monitor the spread of the H1N1 virus in Prince Edward Island. The total number of laboratory confirmed cases on PEI have risen to nine. All cases have been mild and those affected have recovered. “However, while we have only nine laboratory confirmed cases, it is likely there may be more people in Prince Edward Island with the H1N1 virus and we can certainly expect more cases,” says Dr. Morrison. The department has a surveillance plan in place to monitor the spread of the virus in the province.
The H1N1 virus is a strain of influenza. It is an infectious respiratory disease that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal influenza, such as sudden high fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, loss of appetite, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea. Any person ill with influenza-like symptoms is advised to stay at home to recuperate for seven days from the onset of symptoms. If symptoms worsen, people should contact their family physician or other health professional for an evaluation. For emergency situations, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
The Department of Health has a well-developed Pandemic Influenza Contingency Plan and is working closely with federal, provincial and territorial colleagues to ensure the response is consistent and coordinated with other provinces. The department is also liaising with other Government departments in an effort to meet the goals of pandemic planning: reducing illness should the incidence of H1N1 increase as anticipated during the coming fall/winter influenza season and minimizing societal disruption associated with a pandemic.
The Chief Health Office does not anticipate the first vaccine to be available before the first of November and plans to roll out an H1N1 Vaccine Program when the first vaccine arrives. Adequate vaccine supply will be available for all who wish to receive it. This is a key component of Canada’s comprehensive pandemic readiness plan that has been developed jointly with the provinces and territories. The PEI Department of Health is ordering enough H1N1 vaccine for people who want or need it and is working on an implementation plan that follows national guidelines regarding priorities for vaccine distribution. Public health staff will be administering the vaccine to Islanders as it becomes available, to as many people as possible and as quickly as possible.
The department has issued information specific to pregnant women. Pregnant women are not more likely to get the influenza, but if they do catch the H1N1 influenza virus, they are more likely to suffer complications, like pneumonia and severe respiratory distress, which can put both mother and baby’s health at risk. Early treatment may help reduce the risks of complications, so it is important that women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy, or who have given birth a month earlier and are presenting influenza-like symptoms, speak to a medical professional and seek medical care if the symptoms worsen.
The Department of Health wishes to remind people that by doing your part you can help slow the spread of viruses through prevention. These measures include washing hands thoroughly and often, covering coughs and sneezes with an arm or elbow and staying home if you have influenza-like symptoms.
For specific information on such things as guidelines for summer camps, information for pregnant women, how to hand wash and other frequently asked questions, please refer to the Department of Health website at www.gov.pe.ca/health/ or call 1-888-748-5454.