Just as the House of Commons discussed influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, in Ottawa yesterday, Alberta Health Services released more information about the seventh flu-related death in the province.

Dr. Gerry Perdy, Alberta’s senior medical officer, confirmed an elderly man from the Edmonton area died of the disease, but wouldn’t say if there were any underlying health conditions.

“We did reveal that information for the first few deaths, but aren’t going to do it from here on,” said Perdy, adding the death was tragic but not unexpected during a flu outbreak.

Meanwhile, the province continues to brace for an outbreak during the fall, said Alberta Health and Wellness spokesperson John Tuckwell. The province is still identifying groups most at risk to establish priority for the vaccine later this fall, and it is also educating large groups such as schools.

Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer, said even though the federal government has not yet finalized who will be first in line to get the vaccine, this does not mean officials are not busy at work behind the scenes to get ready for a resurgence of the virus.

“I don’t know whether it is because it is like a duck and the legs are going under the water a lot faster than you see them moving smoothly along the surface, but there is an incredible amount of work going on,” he told MPs in Ottawa.

In Calgary, the Catholic School Board developed a plan for outbreaks a few years ago when the avian flu first broke, and the strategy has been updated for swine flu, a spokesperson said.

Janet Sutherland said the school board would take direction from Alberta Health and Wellness during an outbreak, but it will also sanitize schools and inform parents.

“We have already begun educating students about proper hygiene practices ... as a preventive approach,” she said.

with files from torstar news service

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