EDMONTON — Six new human cases of the H1N1 flu virus have been discovered in Alberta, including one young girl who has been in an Edmonton hospital for four days.
The girl is believed to be the first patient in Canada to be hospitalized by the outbreak that began in Mexico.
So far, investigators haven’t been able to find any connection between the Edmonton-area girl and Mexico, but are still looking. Authorities will not say whether the girl is school-age because of privacy reasons. However, “we’re not anticipating any closure of schools,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services.
The girl was in stable condition at last check, said Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
She was hospitalized on April 30.
The other five new cases are all young adults, including three in central Alberta and two in Calgary. There have now been 24 H1N1 cases in the province, although Corriveau said only a fraction of those are still active.
On the weekend, China banned pork imports from Alberta after it was discovered a farm worker transmitted the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, to a herd of pigs, in what is believed to be the first instance of human-to-pig transmission of H1N1. The worker was a carpenter who returned from Mexico on April 12 after helping to build a church there. He was working on the barn on April 14 and was so sick that he had to go home that day, said Gerald Hauer, chief provincial veterinarian for Alberta.
The central Alberta herd that was infected is under quarantine. Both the worker and the sick animals are recovering, but the pork industry is reeling as other countries take the opportunity to ban Canadian pork products.
"This is not a food-safety issue. It is a human health issue," said Herman Simons, chairman of Alberta Pork.
Simons urged Alberta's producers Monday to closely follow their current bio-security measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Those measures include showering before and after interacting with pigs, keeping barns locked, keeping people with influenza-like symptoms away from the animals, contacting a veterinarian promptly if animals display influenza-like symptoms, and refraining from visiting a barn within 72 hours of visiting another.