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Box 2003
Weyburn, Saskatchewan
S4H 2Z9
Tel: (306) 842-8399
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Preparing for H1N1 Influenza

Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) has been preparing all summer to respond to the impact expected from H1N1 influenza this fall and winter.

“The World Health Organization raised the influenza pandemic alert level to the Phase 6 in June and H1N1 has spread rapidly to most countries in the world. The WHO reports that there have been almost 1,800 deaths and cases have been identified in 177 countries and territories,” says Dr. Shauna Hudson, Medical Health Officer for SCHR.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that, to date, 71 deaths have been reported in Canada.

 “The majority of cases continue to experience mild symptoms and recover fully, without treatment, but there continues to be concern that this could change in the fall,” says Dr. Hudson.

The impact of H1N1 this fall is difficult to predict but SCHR is preparing based on the assumption that up to 1/3 of the population of the Region could be infected, she says.

“Although it is still too early to predict the impact, WHO and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to advise health officials to ensure their contingency plans for critical health services and other essential services are in place to reduce the impact of a pandemic,” says Dr. Hudson.

Both organizations have recently released guidelines on many aspects of the pandemic response including the release of new guidelines for schools and the use of antiviral medications.

For example, the Public Health Agency of Canada documents provide guidance for hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools to prepare for a potential second wave of the H1N1 influenza virus and to implement measures to limit transmission of the virus.

“The key point for health organizations is to be ready for rapidly spreading illness in their communities and to work with emergency planning organizations to help the public to be ready,” says Janice Giroux, Vice President Community Health for SCHR.

 “We want to ensure the public has access to accurate information about the illness and about the national, provincial and local plans to reduce its impact,” she says.

“We want to be sure people in Sun Country Health Region know who to ask for help and advice, where to go, and how to help themselves when large numbers of people take to their beds with flu,” she says.

SCHR hosted a teleconference August 26 to which all local media outlets in the Region were invited to meet Dr. Hudson and Mrs. Giroux over the telephone.

They were reminded of the resources available for media when providing information about H1N1 to the public, and invited to ask questions about local preparations for a pandemic.

Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) has a Powerpoint document about H1N1 influenza on its website to help the public understand what the virus is and how to protect themselves against it. The Powerpoint is located at http://www.suncountry.sk.ca/general/187/h1n1-update.html

The SCHR website can be accessed at www.suncountry.sk.ca.

The Fight Flu website has excellent resources and links to many provincial and federal sources of information and can be accessed at http://www.fightflu.ca/index-eng.html.

Media: For more information, please call Joanne Helmer, Communications Coordinator, Sun Country Health Region 842-8353. Released August 26, 2009.

Resources:

All materials from these sites can be reprinted. No permission is required.

Sun Country Health Region:

www.suncountry.sk.ca

Saskatchewan Ministry of Health:

http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/H1N1-surveillance Public Health Agency of Canada:

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/alert-alerte/swine-porcine/surveillance-eng.php Government of Saskatchewan - Flu self-help:

http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/flu-caring-for-yourselfFight Flu

http://www.fightflu.ca/index-eng.html The U.S. Centre for Disease Control:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/investigation.htmWorld Health Organization:

http://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_04_28/en/index.htmlCanadian Red Cross - Southern Saskatchewan Region http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=2931&tid=084

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