Influenza A (H1N1) does not appear to be any worse than normal seasonal influenza, Vancouver’s chief medical health officer said yesterday, as the number of confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu jumped by 10 to a total of 39 in B.C.
The increase brings the number of lab-confirmed cases in Canada to 140, including the first “severe” case involving a young girl in Alberta.
“It appears to behave very similarly to our regular seasonal influenza viruses,” said Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.
“The spectrum of illness caused by H1N1 is similar to regular seasonal influenza … and it does not appear to be as easily transmitted as seasonal influenza.”
Dr. Danuta Skowronski, the influenza lead at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, agreed that the H1N1 virus is causing typical symptoms like fever and cough.
“However,” Skowronski said. “It is a new influenza virus. It is still early days and we still don’t have large numbers in Canada to fully know the extent of the problem.”
During a briefing on Vancouver’s preparedness for a swine-flu pandemic, Daly said the health authority would not recommend that schools be closed, even if there are small clusters of H1N1 cases.
Kevin Wallinger, Vancouver’s director of emergency management, said the city had updated its pandemic planning and an assessment of core services should there be a decrease in staffing levels.
City manager Penny Ballem said residents wouldn’t notice any change in service levels.