April 30, 2009

Over the past week we have all watched with growing concern the emergence of swine flu.  The Canadian Government along with the World Health Organization are taking measures to deal with a potential pandemic as a precaution.  Occasionally, a virus can mutate and jump between species if the two species are living in close proximity to one another.  In this case, a strain of influenza found in pigs jumped from a pig to a human in Mexico and is now spreading.  This strain of swine influenza virus has never been identified in humans before and this is a cause for concern. 

The number of reported cases, as well as deaths, has risen steadily throughout the month of April and the influenza can now be found in most regions of Mexico.  As of April 27, 2009, Canadian travelers are recommended to postpone elective or non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice. 

The Government’s Emergency Operations Centre is now operating 24 hours a day.  Daily coordination and information sharing conference calls are being held with all provincial and territorial public health authorities and our international partners.  Health officials remain vigilant in screening and reporting any unusual influenza-like illnesses, particularly in travelers returning from Mexico.  If you have recently been to Mexico and begin to feel ill, please contact your local health care professional.

What you can do to protect yourselves?  First, practice good hygiene by regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water.  Second, keep yourself healthy by eating right, getting plenty of rest and minimizing the stress in your life.  The healthier you are the better the chance of your body has of fighting off an infection.  Third, if you become ill, stay at home, take care of yourself, avoid public spaces and contact your local health care professional.  If you cough, cough into your sleeve and not on your hands. 

A 1-800 information line, namely 1-800-454-8302, is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) to call to get more information.  You can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website at to find more information and also visit for helpful tips.  News of the swine flu can be alarming, but if we are armed with the right information and take the proper precautions we can, all together, minimize our risk of infection. 

Until next time. . .

Earl Dreeshen, MP
Red Deer