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Monday, 26 October 2009

Manitoba's Flu Battle Begins

Today flu clinics will be operating in a number of provinces as Canada's '09 -'10 battle with H1N1 begins.

Some random thoughts:
- Manitoba revamped the "Flu in Manitoba" website to include a 'q and a' about the vaccination and a 2009 fu clinic schedule.

- Thankfully, the H1N1 virus is returning to us looking and acting much the same as when it left, which doesn't always happen with influenza. As it hasn't mutated and remains rather weak we can take lessons learned from southern jurisdictions and apply them here. (See this week's EuroSurveillance for a number of country / region-specific reports - a summary article is here, the reports are linked on the right-hand side).

- The biggest challenge will likely be treatment capacity. Research, including a large study headed by the U of M, shows that while the number of people who get severely ill was small, those that DO crash fast and hard. This resulted in the need for an immediate ICU bed and mechanical respirator, something not usually associated with treating the flu.

The Australian study found that ICU's were caught by surprise at how ill people got. Nationally, ICU admissions increased between 10 and 20% due to H1N1 infections during the peak weeks of their flu season. That's a lot of extra capacity needed to have waiting around manned, equipped and ready to go.

Given that a large percentage of our cases could be in remote locations this will pose logistical challenges as well.

- A Winnipeg Sun editorial today lambasted MKO's Grand Chief David Harper for comments hinting that some aboriginals likely won't get vaccinated, wary of the shot and more comfortable with traditional methods of warding off disease. I assume that the editorial is in response to this Canadian Press article. If that's the case, The Sun is crapping a bit hard on Harper. He appears to merely stating what 'the buzz' that's out there - if you look at polls such as this, most Canadians down south aren't too taken on the vaccine either.

In a CBC story from Friday Harper seemed to be with the program.

I'm not sure if beating up on a Chief who seems to "get it" in terms of the need to get set-up for vaccinations, though perhaps a little weak in the advocacy of it, just to generate some column inches of newsprint is any better than a chief beating up on the government just to generate some column inches of newsprint.

Related:
Local Group's National Flu Plan
H1N1 Daily Media

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