Information on the H1N1 virus (formerly Human Swine Flu)
Currently this strain of flu virus is rated at Phase 6 on the World Health Organization (WHO) Pandemic Phase Alert. In addition to Phase 5, which is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region, the same virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in at least one other county in another WHO region
It has been largely indicated that this strain of the flu virus is no more serious than any regular seasonal flu, in terms of confirmed cases or deaths. To-date the numbers of deaths, nor confirmed cases, are not above these normal seasonal ranges for the flu. The only two main differences are that it was or is believed to be originally transmitted from pigs to humans. Normally the seasonal flu is avian in nature, meaning it is transferred by birds to humans. The second difference noted was that is affecting the younger population of the adults than normal. Recent stories are indicating this may be largely due to the number of travelers in those age groups has been increasing in recent years.
The majority of First Nation communities in Saskatchewan have either fully developed or near fully developed Pandemic Plans created for their communities. We have been informed by FNIH that these plans are or have been initiated in preparation to put them fully into action. This is only a “be prepared” action should infection spread or worsen significantly.
At this time there is nothing to indicate closure or cancellation of events. The FNIH-Sask Region Regional Medical Health Officer should be consulted to determine if your community requires any closures or cancellations.
Below are a few sites to find information on the H1N1 virus (formerly Human Swine Flu) including precautions to take, recommendation of regular hand washing and sneezing or coughing into your sleeve and not your hand. Also included in the Province of Saskatchewan website is the Healthline number (1-877-800-0002) to speak with a registered nurse and information if you feel you may have the flu, whose symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing and are similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza infection.
A call line has been established at FSIN. The call line will provide basic information provided by the Provincial Medical Health Officer and make referrals to appropriate agencies.
Toll free number 1-866-956-6442
Hours of operation:
Monday to Thursday 8:30AM – 5:00PM
Friday 8:30AM – 4:00PM
The call line will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years.
The following FAQ’s have been provided by the Provincial Medical Health Officer:
How safe is the H1N1 vaccine?
The vaccine is similar to seasonal influenza vaccine. The vaccine has gone through a rigorous testing process through the regulatory agency in Canada and has been authorized for use in all people over the age of 6 months. The regulatory process in Canada is one of the most rigorous in the world. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada have recommended that all pregnant women be vaccinated with either adjuvanted or non adjuvanted vaccine.
How effective is the H1N1 vaccine?
The vaccine produces an immune response effective against H1N1 in over 90% of the adult population Children less than 10 years of age do not get an effective response with the non-adjuvanted vaccine and require two half doses of the adjuvanted vaccine 21 days apart to be effective.
What are the alternatives to the vaccine?
H1N1 can be effectively treated with the antiviral Tamiflu which is available through your doctor or through a nursing station. Tamiflu has been placed in most communities for ready access.
Most H1N1 infection is mild and having had H1N1 will confer at least partial protection from re infection.
People who have not been diagnosed with H1N1 are recommended to have the vaccine.
It is important to rest, take plenty of fluids and maintain good nutrition. It is best to stay away from work or school until 24 hours after symptoms have ceased.
Province of Saskatchewan link
World Health Organization (WHO) link
World Health Organization (WHO) Tips on fighting the spread of H1N1 at home (PDF)
Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) link