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Swine flu spreads in Yukon

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  • Swine flu spreads in Yukon

    Swine flu spreads in Yukon

    Last Updated: Thursday, November 5, 2009 | 11:10 AM CT

    CBC News

    Dr. Brendan Hanley said the spread of H1N1 influenza virus is likely still on the upswing, as there is no sign the number of swine flu cases is declining so far. (CBC)

    The spread of swine flu in the Yukon has yet to reach its peak, according to the territory's medical officer of health.

    Dr. Brendan Hanley says some communities are currently reporting high levels of flu activity, even though more than 11,000 Yukoners ? about one-third of the population ? have received the H1N1 and seasonal flu shots since a territory-wide immunization campaign began last week.

    The flu assessment centre in Whitehorse is seeing more than 20 cases of flu a day, Hanley said.

    "We're still seeing busy emergency rooms visits," Hanley told CBC News on Wednesday.

    "Our communities are reporting various levels of activity, but several communities are reporting significant influenza activity."

    Hanley said there is no sign the number of swine flu cases is declining, meaning the H1N1 influenza virus is likely still on the upswing.

    Meanwhile, the Yukon's Education Department is tracking school absenteeism as one indicator of the flu's spread.

    "We've had some that have been very, very high in our rural schools," said Dave Sloan, a pandemic planning official with the department.

    "We had one at Carmacks was very high, almost 80 per cent. We have a very high absentee rate at Carcross right now. Other schools, it's gone up and it's gone down; I think we're just seeing this kind of go through a wave."

    As an exmple of that "wave," Sloan said F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse went from missing more than 20 per cent of its student population to just six per cent within the span of a few days.

    "As long as a school can operationally keep going, we are committed to making sure the kids are provided an education," he said.

    Tracking student attendance is just one indicator to watch as the flu spreads, Hanley said.

    "We haven't declared any official school outbreak, but we are definitely seeing increased absenteeism around the Yukon ? some of which is certainly due to flu activity, but it's likely due to a mix of viruses as well," he said.

    As for absenteeism within the Yukon government, officials say their numbers are currently within the "normal" range, between two and 11 per cent across the various departments.

    The Yukon recorded its first swine flu-related death earlier this week. Hanley said a young girl, who died Sunday in a Vancouver hospital, had underlying medical conditions but did have the H1N1 influenza virus.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela