Canada optimistic H1N1 flu to die down over summer

Fri May 1, 2009 4:57pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Friday it had discovered a total of 51 mild cases of the new H1N1 strain of flu and was optimistic the disease would stop spreading over the next few months.

"What gives me short-term optimism is that we are at the end of what would be normally flu season, so the chances are that this will die down over the summer, assuming it follows the normal pattern for influenzas," Chief Public Health Office David Butler-Jones told a briefing.

He said this would enable authorities to develop a vaccine and be better prepared if the flu returned later in the year.

Federal health officials on Friday launched a new public awareness campaign on how to avoid catching the flu, which started in Mexico. As well as using traditional media, the campaign will be seen on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter as well as YouTube.

On Friday, the Atlantic province of New Brunswick reported its first case of the new strain, which countries had previously called swine flu. Meghan Cumby, a spokeswoman for the New Brunswick department of health, said a woman in her 20s who had recently been to Mexico has the flu.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman)

<p>People walk by a sign inside St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto warning visitors not to visit family or friends if they have had influenza-like symptoms. The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in Canada increased to 13 on Tuesday, as Canadians were urged to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico and a major tour operator postponed flights between the countries. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>