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He said the first person died last
week; a second death was confirmed Thursday.
"People are coughing up blood. Is that a common flu? Absolutely not," said Harper, who is calling for the federal and provincial government to step in and help.
'We are alarmed at the information we received from the public health officials that this is no emergency. How many more deaths do we need before we call this an emergency?'
—Garden Hill First Nation Chief David Harper
Garden Hill was one of the communities that struggled with swine flu, also known as the H1N1 influenza A virus, in the spring of 2009.
Three people on the reserve died of H1N1 and another death is suspected to have been connected to the virus. Another 50 cases of the virus were confirmed in the Island Lake region.
The above comments compare the current outbreak at Garden Hill to the pH1N1 outbreak in May and June of 2009. Media reports indicate the number of deaths has increased to three, equaling the total for pH1N1 in the 2009 spring outbreak. The Manitoba week 47 report for 2010 demonstrates a dramatic spike in cases for the Burntwood region, where cases rose from 0 to 25 in one week. The levels were well above the next highest region (Winnipeg), which had 4 in week 47 as well as 4 in the preceding week, even though the population at Garden Hills is only 4200.
This dramatic spike was also associated with a jump in severe cases as indicated by deaths and hospitalized cases in the ICU. It is likely that week 48 will have higher numbers, based on the number of reported deaths and people coughing up blood.
Although these patients have tested positive for seasonal H3N2, no antigen characterization data was been released or described, leaving open the possibility that these are trH3N2 cases.
More information is needed, because the high attack rate of a virus causing severe infections and deaths should be fully characterized with antigenic characterization and sequence data.