40 H1N1 cases in N.W.T. not cause for alarm: official

There are now 40 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith, but health officials say the flu season is not shaping up to be unusual.

NWT health officials encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine

There are now 40 confirmed cases of H1N1 in the Northwest Territories and health officials say the virus has not yet hit its peak. So far, the cases are in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith.

Officials at the department of health says they'll be monitoring the situation over the next few days, but they say there's no reason to be alarmed. 

This year, H1N1 strain is much different from the 2009 virus, says Dr. Andre Corriveau, the territory's chief medical health officer. 

The virus has evolved and become far less deadly. In Quebec, H1N1 now makes up 90% of flu cases during the regular flu season

Health officials in the Yukon have also detected several H1N1 cases. They believe H1N1 is the prominent strain of the flu in Yukon this season. 

Corriveau says five of the cases in the N.W.T. have led to hospital stays, and one person required short-term treatment in intensive care, but there have been no deaths.

“It's not shaping up as that much out of the ordinary,” Corriveau says, “but I think because of the name H1N1 and people remembering the pandemic strain from 2009, it’s drawing a lot more attention.”

Right across the country the majority of the sick are the very young.

Health officials are encouraging everyone to do their part and get the flu vaccine, to help protect not only themselves but those who are more susceptible to major illness, including babies, elders, pregnant women and people with cancer or diabetes.

Dr. Corriveau says people who have gotten the flu vaccination between October and January are protected from H1N1.

However, the immunization can take up to 10 days before it's fully effective.