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 Second H1N1 wave takes lethal toll on Canadians 
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Post Second H1N1 wave takes lethal toll on Canadians

Second H1N1 wave takes lethal toll on Canadians

Tally of dead has surpassed 190, but the season's peak isn't even here yet, chief national public health officer says ... le1361766/

Caroline Alphonso and Karen Howlett
TORONTO — From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 12:00AM EST Last updated on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 4:34AM EST

A sudden spike in H1N1 deaths over the past week reveals that the pandemic virus is taking a far greater toll on Canadians during the second wave, raising fears that it is just as severe, if not worse, than seasonal flu.

Ontario's confirmed tally of fatalities jumped to 61 from 37 last week; five more people died in Alberta since Tuesday; Quebec confirmed four deaths in the past 24 hours; and British Columbia recorded eight more deaths over the past week.

More than 190 Canadians have died from H1N1 - and with additional deaths expected, health officials say there is a heightened urgency to get more people vaccinated quickly, especially the young who have been so badly affected.

The death tally, which in the spring averaged two to four a week, is at least three times higher during this second wave as the virus spreads. "We haven't seen the peak yet, in my view," David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, said yesterday. "We will continue to see, unfortunately, more people in ICUs and hospitals, and, unfortunately, more deaths as well."

The youngest victim so far was a two-month-old baby boy from London, Ont., who died earlier this month. H1N1 disproportionately affects younger people because it resembles a strain of flu that circulated before 1957, to which older people have been exposed.

Health officials on the ground are seeing more Canadians filling emergency rooms or showing severe H1N1 symptoms. In B.C., for example, there have been 202 new severe cases identified since the beginning of the month, for a total of 601 since April when the virus was first identified.

Michael Gardam, director of infectious diseases prevention and control at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, said that as more people begin coming down with the virus, the death tally will continue climbing for a few more weeks.

"To my mind, it's purely a marker that there's more flu out there," Dr. Gardam said. "The virus has not mutated. It's no more nasty than it was before. There's just more people with it."

Some health officials have questioned the intense government focus on H1N1, saying it is a mild virus that has killed fewer people than the seasonal flu. The seasonal flu kills about 4,000 people each year and results in the hospitalization of tens of thousands more, but those deaths are estimated, whereas H1N1 deaths are confirmed.

"It's not fair to make the comparison," said Kumanan Wilson, Canada research chair in public-health policy at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "On the ground level, this is definitely not that much milder than the seasonal flu as those mortality stats would suggest. It's as bad, if not worse as regular seasonal flu. That's the clinical experience."

In the United States, numbers released yesterday show swine flu has killed an estimated 3,900 Americans, including more than 500 children, between April and mid-October; it has infected an estimated 22 million people and put 98,000 in hospital. The count is an extrapolation based on data from 10 states.

"What we are seeing in 2009 is unprecedented," said Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And there's still a long flu season ahead. "I think projecting out forward is difficult."

In Canada, about seven million doses of vaccine have so far been distributed to provinces and territories, and more will keep flowing over the next few weeks. Canada has ordered 50 million doses. Dr. Butler-Jones said surveys are being conducted and modelling done to get a sense of how many Canadians had the flu. But he said there's no reason to extrapolate the number of deaths in Canada, because health authorities are closely tracking that data.

"I'm sure that there's some that we're missing. But most are getting picked up, particularly the ICU ones, and obviously the deaths. So I don't think we're missing a lot in terms of the severe cases," he said.

"We don't know for sure how many Canadians have had the flu ... [but we'll] try and get some estimates as we go forward."

Something is going to happen, but what?

Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:55 am
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Post Re: Second H1N1 wave takes lethal toll on Canadians
Funny my doctor says its no worse this year than last year.

He did make one comment though, he said he felt that the media was hyping it up and scaring people that do NOT normally get shots..

Food for thought

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Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:32 pm
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