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Author Topic: Chief health officer warns pregnant women of flu risk  (Read 1332 times)

Offline CareDC

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Chief health officer warns pregnant women of flu risk
« on: June 30, 2009, 01:21:21 PM »
Pregnant women and those with underlying risk conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disease, should avoid crowds to reduce the risk of being exposed to human swine flu, federal health officials said Monday.

Canada's chief public health officer says there is no evidence to suggest pregnant women are at greater risk of contracting the H1N1 influenza A virus. But, if they do become ill, pregnant women especially those in the third trimester are at higher risk of serious complications.

As women get closer to their due dates, their immune systems change, making them more vulnerable to serious illness not just from influenza, but from other infections as well, Dr. David Butler-Jones said. That can put stress on the fetus, and, in rare cases, increase the risk of an early birth or fetal death.

"It is very important for pregnant women to take precautions to help prevent infection in the first place and to seek medical advice if they do develop influenza-like illness," he said in a media call Monday.

"People with underlying risk conditions and pregnant women should consider avoiding crowds to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus," he added.

"You need to be practical about getting on with life," Butler-Jones said. But he said pregnant women should avoid situations where they would be close to crowds for prolonged periods.

Butler-Jones also said Monday that serious cases are also occurring in people who were healthy "before catching this virus" and that the infection rapidly progressed in to severe illness requiring ventilators.

"We're tracking these cases very closely, trying to understand from a medical standpoint why they would be affected this way by the virus, and whether this is a signal that the virus itself is changing and becoming more virulent," or if other factors are at play, he said.

Butler-Jones also warned that in addition to a fever and a cough, anyone who develops serious respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, should seek immediate medical care.

The risk of children picking up swine flu at daycare or day camps is generally low, he said, similar to what it would be in schools. However, the risk might be higher in sleep-away camps, where children live in close quarters and for prolonged periods.


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