May 4, 2009 / 9:44 PM / in 9 years

Canada records first serious H1N1 flu case

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - An Alberta girl has been hospitalized in Canada’s first serious case of the H1N1 flu, as the country’s confirmed cases climbed to 140, health officials said on Monday.

<p>Canada's Chief Public Health Officer David Butler-Jones speaks during a news conference about swine flu outbreak in Ottawa April 27, 2009. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>

Officials had expected to discover people suffering more serious effects from the virus as the disease progresses, even though all other cases in Canada have involved only mild symptoms.

“The news of this first more severe case, although disconcerting, is not surprising, and it does not change the course of action were are taking,” said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer.

The girl is being treated in intensive care at an Edmonton, Alberta, hospital. She had not been to Mexico where the flu outbreak began and where 101 people have died, and officials do not know yet how she became infected or why her symptoms are so severe.

All of Canada’s other cases have involved people who had either traveled to Mexico themselves or been in contact with people who had been there recently and brought the virus back with them.

The case also comes as Canada grapples with the economic fallout from last weekend’s discovery of a pig herd in Alberta that had been infected with the flu virus by a worker at the farm who had recently returned from Mexico.

China and other countries have banned imports of pork, even though the virus is not food-borne. Canada’s pork exports have dropped an estimated 10 to 15 percent since the swine flu outbreak began.

Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson

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