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May 21, 2009

As you are aware, an outbreak of swine influenza (“flu”) in Mexico has sickened hundreds of people there, affecting mainly young healthy adults. Fatalities in Mexico have been attributed to a virus (H1N1), which spread quickly from person to person within the Mexican population.

What is the Swine Flu?

The Swine Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, new viruses can emerge that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses and most of the recently isolated flu viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses. (Public Health Agency of Canada )

As of May 20, 2009, the British Columbia Ministry of Health Services reports that there have been a total of 114 cases of H1N1 diagnosed in British Columbia (BC), including a total of 15 cases on Vancouver Island. Across Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that 719 cases have been reported as of May 20, 2009, of which only 16 cases (2.2%) have required hospitalization. In Canada, one death has been attributed to the virus.

The number of reported confirmed cases of H1N1 Flu Virus in Mexico steadily increased until the end of April at which time it began to decrease and then level off over the past few weeks at a lower level. Given that the latest information from Mexico indicates the risk of contracting the virus has decreased and that nearly all of the cases reported in Canada and the United States have been mild, as of May 18, 2009, the Public Health Agency of Canada no longer recommends Canadians postpone elective or non-essential travel to Mexico.

Here at Camosun College, there have been no reports of infected students or staff. A response team of senior administrators and staff was established in mid-April in order to maintain contact with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, and to disseminate regular updates and information to the Camosun College community. The college has been actively informing students and staff as to how they can protect themselves and minimize the spread of this virus. The college community has also been made aware of several British Columbia and Canadian government websites that upload regular H1N1 updates (see links below).

What can we do to protect ourselves and others

The symptoms of infection with this new virus are typical of most other influenza infections, i.e. any combination of fever, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, muscle aches and fatigue. More severe infections within Mexico were also associated with breathing difficulties.

Infections resulting from any influenza-type virus require the same common sense hygienic and preventative measures, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with sick people.
  • When you are sick with the flu, staying at home and avoiding contact with others.
  • Talking with your doctor if you have any other health concerns.
  • Washing your hands with soap and water frequently ESPECIALLY before touching or handling food. If there is no soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene: cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
  • Visit the World Health Authority (WHO) for details about flu and basic hygiene measures you can take to protect yourself and others from infection.

For more information

We will continue to keep you informed as the situation unfolds. Please watch for updates on our website and visit the following health authority websites:

Contact

Denis Powers
Human Resources
250–370–3005
powers@camosun.bc.ca


April 28, 2009

As you are aware, an outbreak of swine influenza (“flu”) in Mexico has sickened hundreds of people there, affecting mainly young healthy adults. Fatalities in Mexico have been attributed to a virus (H1N1), which has spread quickly from person to person within the Mexican population.

What is the Swine Flu?

The Swine Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, new viruses can emerge that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses and most of the recently isolated flu viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses. (Public Health Agency of Canada )

A number of milder infections (with no fatalities) have been documented in the last few days in the USA, Canada and several other countries around the world. A case is now being reported in Victoria. All cases recorded outside of Mexico appear to be related to recent travel to Mexico. All of these individuals in these cases seem to be recovering quickly without complications.

What is Camosun doing?

While we have no reported cases at Camosun, we have a response team in place that is monitoring and disseminating information and responding to inquiries from students, employees and parents. This group is also in contact with the Vancouver Island Health Authority and regional and provincial emergency preparedness agencies on a daily basis.

As of April 27 2009, we are being recommended to postpone elective or non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Important information

So far, this influenza infection appears to be particularly severe in and around Mexico City (the centre of the outbreak). All cases outside of Mexico have been mild, as noted above.

  • The symptoms of infection with this new virus are typical of most other influenza infections, i.e. any combination of fever, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, muscle aches and fatigue. More severe infections within Mexico were also associated with breathing difficulties.
  • Infections resulting from any influenza-type virus require the same common sense hygienic and preventative measures.

What can we do to protect ourselves and others

Although cases outside of Mexico appear to be mild, we should continue to be vigilant and to follow these important measures during this influenza outbreak:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • When you are sick with the flu, stay at home and avoid contact with others.
  • Talk with your doctor if you have any other health concerns.
  • Visit the World Health Authority (WHO) for details about flu and basic hygiene measures you can take to protect yourself and others from infection.

Important: if you have any symptoms of the flu (any fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, etc.) within one week after returning from Mexico, please report this immediately to your doctor.

General common sense protective measures

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently ESPECIALLY before touching or handling food. If there is no soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; carry a small bottle with you all the time. Camosun has supplied antibacterial soaps to most departments on both campuses and in public areas.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene: cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
  • If possible, reconsider your plans to travel to Mexico until this outbreak is over.
  • Remember to have your children follow the above protective measures.

For more information

We will continue to keep you informed as the situation unfolds. Please watch for regular updates on our website and visit the following health authority websites:

Contact

Denis Powers
Human Resources
250–370–3005
powers@camosun.bc.ca

Last updated: August 28, 2009 11:56 am

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