By David F. Rooney
The pandemic has probably already reached Revelstoke but we just haven’t noticed yet, says Revelstoke’s Emergency Planning Coordinator Jerry Silva.
“I don’t want anybody to get all excited.. but it’s likely here in Revelstoke right now,” he told City Council during a special briefing on the H1N1 virus Tuesday afternoon.
Silva said that according to Interior Health’s statistical projections as many as 1,700 local residents could “require a medical assessment” to confirm they are infected with the Swine Flu virus, of those 45 could require hospitalization at Queen Victoria Hospital. Ten of them could wind up in the Intensive Care Unit and three of them might need ventilators to survive. He said he did not believe the IHA foresaw any fatalities here as a result of the flu. However, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, there have been 78 severe H1N1 cases in the province, including 14 in the IHA region. Seven people have died, two of them in the IHA. (To find out more please go to www.interiorhealth.ca.)
That is not cause for alarm. All of the people who died had underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems or other conditions. However, unlike the normal seasonal influenza virus, which also kills people, H1N1 seems predisposed to most adversely affect young and relatively young people.
Pressed by Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt as to why anyone should be concerned b about the H1N1 virus if it is likely no more deadly than the normal seasonal flu, Silva said he’s certainly not worried but that is not a reason not to be prepared for all eventualities. He pointed to the 1918 so-called Spanish Flu virus, which actually first appeared at army bases in the United States. That virus mutated and eventually killed more than 20 million people world wide — most of them relatively young.
Currently, the H1N1 virus, which surfaced in Mexico in May, is expected to sweep the country and the rest of the northern hemisphere in two waves. While seasonal flu vaccinations will be offered here next week they will not be effective against Swine Flu. H1N1 immunization vaccines will not be delivered in this country until next month.
Just by way of being prepared, Silva said plans have been drawn up to help authorities and first responders cope if the pandemic were to somehow prove to be worse than expected. Among those plans is the designation of Arrow Heights Elementary as an overflow treatment centre, should the need arise, he said.
People who have questions or who are concerned about any illness or symptoms they or their children are experiencing are strongly encouraged to call 8-1-1. This line is manned 24/7 by nurses who can answer your questions or suggest a course of action regarding illness.
For the latest facts about the H1N1 virus and the pandemic you can also go to www.gov.bc.ca/h1n1.