By David F. Rooney
There have been “two confirmed cases of H1N1” at Revelstoke Secondary School, says School Superintendent Anne Cooper.
Asked about Swine Flu cases in District 19’s five schools prior to a Tuesday Board of Trustees meeting, she said the only ones she knew of were two cases at the high school. One of the students had recently been out of the country; the other had not. Cooper did not elaborate.
However, a spokeswoman for Interior Health said today that the only influenza virus infecting people at the moment is H1N1.
“H1N1 is the only influenza virus out there right now,” said Lannea Parfitt, who handles media inquiries for all public health issues. “The seasonal flue virus has not yet made an appearance.”
It is impossible to tell how exactly how many cases of H1N1 there are right now, but given what Parfitt said then the chances are excellent that if you, or a family member or friend have flu symptoms then you likely have swine flu.
“Doctors are under orders not to swab (the inside of a patient’s cheek) for flu viruses unless it is a severe case,” she said. “The province does not want to overwhelm laboratory facilities.”
As a result, the only numbers available to the news media and the general public are figures for deaths and severe cases requiring hospitalization. In British Columbia there have been 199 confirmed severe cases, 31 of them in the Interior Health region. Province-wide, there have been 12 deaths, three of them in the IH region. According to the IH website, located at www.interiorhealth.ca, the Public Health Agency of Canada is maintaining weekly case reports on the pandemic. But so far the site, located at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fluwatch/08-09/index-eng.php, has only made available the case reports to the end of August.
As for H1N1’s presence in schools throughout the region, the IH website says this:
- In the week Oct. 5-9, the number of IH schools reporting more than 10% absenteeism due to influenza like illness – 11.
- Pandemic H1N1 virus continues to circulate widely in the Interior Health region, and most, if not all schools, may be experiencing some degree of student absenteeism due to pandemic H1N1 infections, even if at less than the 10% surveillance reporting threshold.
- All parents should keep sick children home from school until their symptoms fully resolve.
Hand sanitizers have popped up all over the place — in schools, Cooper’s Foods, medical and dental clinics and elsewhere. People are strongly encouraged to keep their hands clean, direct sneezes away from others and, if they present flu-like symptoms, to stay home. Specific information for parents and daycare operators is available online at www.interiorhealth.ca/daycareH1N1.aspx. Healthlink BC has also posted an online symptom checker that can help you determine if you or a loved one is suffering from H1N1. Go to www.healthlinkbc.ca/tools/h1n1/symptom_checker/ to see if that’s what you have. You can also call call 8-1-1 and speak to a public health nurse to see if you have swine flu.
As for the IH’s influenza immunization clinics, Revelstoke residents under the age of 65 can get vaccinated against both H1N1 and the seasonal flu starting on Nov. 3. The clinics are as follows:
Nov. 3: Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 9 am – 4 pm — Community Centre
Nov. 9: Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 9 am – 4 pm — Community Centre
Nov. 12: Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 1 pm – 7 pm — United Church
Nov. 16: Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 8 am – 2:30 pm — Community Centre
Nov. 18: Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 9 am – 4 pm — Community Centre
Nov. 24 : Seasonal flu/H1N1 Immunization Clinic — 1 pm – 7 pm — Community Centre