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Critical Swine H1N1 Cases In Canada Raise Pandemic Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 00:25
June 10, 2009

Currently, there are 26 people - 23 adults and three children - in intensive care units of Manitoba hospitals, using ventilators to aid their strained breathing from flu-related reasons.

It is expected many of them will be confirmed as cases of swine flu, or the H1N1 influenza A virus, Manitoba's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Joel Kettner, said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Another 25 children are in hospitals with respiratory illnesses and are being tested for swine flu, according to health officials.

Typically, at this time of year, there are very few - if any - cases of severe flu, said Kettner.

The above comments describe the deteriorating situation in Manitoba. Yesterday, 15 more ventilators were requested as the number of serious swine flu victims grows,  Media reports indicate hundreds more are sick with mild illness and large numbers of confirmed cases have also been announced in adjacent Nunavut (see updated map).  Patients on ventilators are typically in critical condition, raising concerns of a significant increase in the swine fu death toll in Canada.

The sudden jump in serious cases raises concerns that as the virus spreads and cases grow, other communities around the world may face similar episodes.

The serious cases have increase pressure on WHO to raise the pandemic phase level to 6, signaling the worldwide spread of the virus.  Although many countries outside of North America are attempting to limit spread through border checks, the virus has already spread worldwide and community spread is largely undetected because resources and testing is concentrated at airports. 

As countries focus attention on community spread, the number of confirmed cases will rise dramatically, increasing pandemic concerns.

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