Travel Alert: Canada Beset With Growing “Deadly” H1N1 Flu Cases

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 6, 2014 2:02 PM EST

People wanting to travel to Canada have been advised to take necessary precautions as the country is currently beset with a growing number of the deadly H1N1 flu cases.

As of Monday, the statistics from the Public Health Agency showed that Canada's latest flu season had so far claimed 13 lives, all due to the deadly H1N1 strain of Influenza A.

Reuters
China is considered one of the nations most at risk from bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population

Three deaths were in Saskatchewan, five from Alberta and another recent two from Toronto. British Columbia and Manitoba along with several other eastern provinces have also reported seeing cases of H1N1 among the sick patients.

Health authorities blamed the Canadians themselves for their complacency to get their preventive shots against the fatal flu strain which largely hit the world in 2009/2010. At least 428 Canadians died in those pandemic years. Global deaths reached between 151,000 and 575,000.

Alberta has established mass immunisation clinics in four communities. It takes a complete 14 days for the vaccine against H1N1 to be fully effective in protecting a person.

Although those over 70 are the most susceptible to the H1N1 strain, the younger Canadians were told to be vigilant.

"We haven't seen young people dying, but we've certainly seen serious illness in younger people and we don't know yet, of course, the full size of the pandemic for this year," Dr Rupert Kaul, head of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital, was quoted by CBC News.

"It's still worth getting a flu shot if you haven't yet," Perry Kendall, BC's Chief Medical Health Officer, was quoted by Link Newspaper. "Children under five don't have a lot of inherent resistance to the H1N1 because they weren't born in 2009 when we had mass infections, and we're also seeing it in younger adults and middle-aged adults."

Quebec has yet to enter into dangerous flu season zone. Health officials would like to remain hopeful it would be able to fight the strain's resurgence in Canada.

"If we start seeing a major increase in Quebec, it will tell us that the peak of the season is coming in a few weeks," Dr Karl Weiss, chief of infectious diseases and microbiology at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, told Montreal Gazette.

Still, it may resound like the pandemic 2009, "but this time we have a vaccine," according to Dr Sandro Cinti, an infectious diseases specialist.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
China is considered one of the nations most at risk from bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population
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