2 people die from H1N1 virus in Manitoba

Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer says two people in the province have died from the H1N1 virus. Both were under the age of 65.

45 people died from H3N2 strain last year

H1N1 or "swine" flu has been part of Manitoba's flu vaccine program for several years. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer says two people in the province died from the H1N1 virus last month. Both were under the age of 65.

It's not known where they were from, their sex or their exact age. Dr. Michael Routledge has confirmed it is the same strain that appeared during the pandemic seven years ago, but said it's important not to panic.

Laboratory images of the newly identified H1N1 influenza virus. (CDC)
"This is a virus that we have had circulating for several years now and it's a virus we have had in our vaccine for several years now. So it's not the same when it first came on the scene. There is a perception that is a scary type of virus, but since it first showed up, we have had years to develop an underlying immunity in the population," said Routledge.

The virus has been part of a vaccine for several years, there is a much higher level of immunity among Manitobans now than when it first appeared, he said.

Routledge doesn't know if the two people who died were vaccinated.

Last year, 45 people were reported to have died from H3N2, another influenza virus. So far this year, the two H1N1 are the only deaths.

H1N1 is still a virus that will turn up regularly, he said, adding it usually targets younger populations. Dr. Routledge said it's a good reminder for people to get their flu vaccine every year, including younger people and children.