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Public health confirms 1st swine flu case in N.B.

Last Updated: Friday, May 1, 2009 | 3:06 PM AT

New Brunswick's Department of Health has confirmed the first case of swine flu in the province.

Lori Walsh, 22, said she was told Friday morning by the public health office that she has the province's first case of swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus.

Walsh said she became ill on a recent trip to Mexico and she is currently at home in her Moncton apartment.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer of health, told reporters on Friday morning that the woman, said the health department received confirmation of the diagnosis around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Cleary said this is likely not the only case of swine flu in the province. But she is advising people not to panic and to take normal precautions, such as washing their hands and staying home if they're sick.

"The key thing is to keep it in perspective. [There] is a bit of flu going around. It's not a bad flu. People may get it — it may spread," Cleary said.

"We will need to be vigilant to see what's going on, to see if it's getting worse, to see if the advice has to change. So in general, people should act as though they have the flu."

Health Minister Michael Murphy told the legislative assembly on Friday morning that the case is considered mild.

"One confirmed case should not spell panic for New Brunswickers," Murphy said.

"New Brunswick is not currently in a pandemic situation. I would, however, like to assure all New Brunswickers that in the event of a pandemic, we are prepared, and to that end, we have already begun to act."

Murphy said his department has been ramping up its monitoring efforts of the H1N1 virus in the province since last Friday. Those actions include:

  • Increasing surveillance throughout New Brunswick.
  • Developing guidelines to help the health response to any outbreak.
  • Investing $1 million in the provincial lab in Moncton.
  • Activating the Department of Health's emergency operations centre.
  • Contacting the Emergency Measures Organization to make sure critical infrastructure is ready.
  • Briefing all MLAs regularly.

The Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Hospital in Moncton is continuing to test samples of other suspected flu cases in New Brunswick. If there is a positive test, the sample will be sent to the national lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.

However, the Health Department is not saying how many samples from New Brunswick are being tested in Winnipeg.

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