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WHO declares a pandemic

The decision June 11 from the World Health Organization to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from Phase Five to Phase Six is an indication of the spread of the H1N1 virus and not a result of increasing disease severity. The two lab-confirmed cases in SCHR did not experience severe disease and the majority of cases to date in Saskatchewan have been of mild to moderate severity.

"Our team in Sun Country Health Region has been responding since the H1N1 flu virus was first discovered in late April," said Dr. Shauna Hudson, Medical Health Officer for Sun Country Health Region.

"We have been preparing for this declaration by the World Health Organization and have already increased many of our regional activities to respond to the H1N1 outbreak," she said. "We will continue to do the same now that the WHO has declared this a pandemic."

Sun Country Health Region will continue some of its regular influenza surveillance in South East Saskatchewan over the summer.

"Our school surveillance will end when schools close for the summer. We have recently added surveillance in the St. Joseph's Hospital and Weyburn General Hospital emergency rooms to carry on for the summer in preparation for the influenza season this fall."

Dr. Hudson adds that a pandemic is a worldwide epidemic.

Physicians in Sun Country Health Region are required to notify the public health department when they assess individuals with severe influenza-like illness that could be a case of H1N1, she says.

Two cases of H1N1 have been confirmed here since the outbreak began.

"We will continue our surveillance, continue our support for staff, and will step up our public education sessions in the fall when the regular flu season is expected to begin," says Dr. Hudson.

The message to the public will be same as it has been since the outbreak began, she says.
• H1N1 influenza is contagious.
• Transmission of influenza can be reduced by practicing good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
o Cough into your sleeve if no tissues are available.
o Frequent hand washing with soap or alcohol-based gel will help you reduce the chance of becoming sick.
• People infected with influenza should be considered potentially contagious for up to seven (7) days following the onset of their illness.
o Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
• People who are ill with influenza-like illness should stay home from work or school for 7 days after their symptoms start and should minimize their contact with other members of the public to avoid spreading the infection to others.
• If you become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including cough, fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea and you are concerned, call Healthline at 1-877-800-0002, or go to http:/// particularly if you are worried about your symptoms.


Media: For more information, please call Janice Giroux, Vice President, Community Health for Sun Country Health Region, at 861-9895.




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