The H1N1 Flu Virus

H1N1 Flu Virus in Canada

Q1. Does the Government of Canada expect to see more cases of H1N1 Flu Virus in Canada? Or a Second Wave of Illness?

We fully expect that new cases will continue be identified. Although some cases have been severe, including some deaths, most of the cases continue to be mild. We continue to work with our international partners to learn more about this virus and to prepare for additional waves of illness and/or changes to the nature of the virus.

Q2. I understand Canada has experienced deaths related to the H1N1 virus. Does this mean the virus has grown in strength?

There is no evidence to suggest that the virus has become stronger. It is important to realize that different strains of influenza result in about 4,000 Canadian deaths a year. We must take all influenza – not just the current strain – seriously, and take measures to protect ourselves

Q3. How many people in Canada have died from H1N1 Flu Virus?

Reports of H1N1 Flu Virus Deaths in Canada

Q4. Why are only the number of deaths reported and not the numbers of cases of illness?

At first, it was important to understand how the virus was spreading, and what kind of illness it was causing. This is why we did individual testing to laboratory-confirm cases of H1N1 Flu Virus. We know now that the virus has spread to all provinces and territories and is spreading like regular seasonal flu.

How to protect yourself and others

Q1. What can I do to protect myself from infection?

The Public Health Agency advises Canadians to:

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer

Cough and sneeze in your arm or sleeve

Keep doing what you normally do, but stay home if sick

Check for more information

Check for travel notices and advisories

Talk to a health professional if you experience severe flu-like symptoms

Treatment and Prevention Measures

Q1. Are there drugs that can treat H1N1 Flu Virus?

Yes. Early research indicates that there are two prescription antiviral drugs, oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) that are effective in treating the H1N1 Flu Virus.

Q2. What are PHAC’s recommendations for the use of antivirals?

PHAC’s recommendation is that antivirals be used to treat H1N1 Flu Virus when the illness is moderate to severe and the patient is at a great risk for complications. PHAC is not recommending that antivirals be given for a mild disease or on a preventive basis at this time. The reasons for this are:

We do not have sufficient information to suggest that this influenza virus requires the use of antivirals. Most patients in Canada are recovering well on their own.

There is a risk that the virus could be resistant to antiviral treatment if antivirals are overused to treat mild illness.

The antiviral stockpile is a finite resource. We want to be sure not to run out before they are really needed.

Q3. How are antiviral medications made available if needed?