Monday, 22 June 2009

WHO senior official declares H1N1 flu cases in Nunavut "...cause for concern...."

"...The sharp spike of outbreaks in the predominantly Inuit territories drew alarm from the World Health Organization last week. W HO senior official Keiji Fukuda announced that disproportionate numbers of serious cases in Nunavut and northern Manitoba communities was cause for concern.

Fukuda warned that past pandemics had hit Inuit populations "very severely."

Nunavut's chief medical officer Dr. Isaac Sobol downplayed WHO's report, saying he didn't see a disproportionate number of serious cases in Inuit communities, even as confirmed cases in Nunavut doubled from 25 to 53.

The next day the number of confirmed cases jumped to 96. The number has since risen to 204, and the Nunavut Health Department has reported that outbreaks are spreading to communities throughout the entire region...."

"...The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, another A/H1N1 swine flu, devastated not only Inuit communities in Canada and Alaska, but other North American indigenous communities as well, and caused extremely high mortality rates among indigenous peoples.

WHO's Fukuda said any speculation as to causes such as genetic, environmental or due to underlying diseases is premature...."

"...There is some fear now that the virus may travel throughout Canada's Indian country and still be active when a possible second and third wave of H1N1 hits this fall and winter...."

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