April 23, 2009
20 die from severe respiratory illness in Mexico
Canadians who have recently returned from Mexico should be on alert for flu-like symptoms that could be connected to a severe respiratory illness, according to an advisory sent to health services across Canada.
The Public Health Agency of Canada contacted health and quarantine services on April 17 to inform them that Mexican health authorities had advised Canada to be on alert for possible infections.
A severe respiratory illness appears to have infected hundreds in south and central areas of Mexico, according to Mexican health officials.
The illness has killed at least 20 people in Mexico, mostly men between the ages of 25 and 44, according to a public advisory sent out by Canadian health authorities.
Hundreds of people have also reportedly been hospitalized and health-care workers have also been infected.
Officials said there are not yet any reports of the illness outside of Mexico.
The cause of the illness has not been confirmed. Mexican health officials said samples so far have tested positive for influenza A and B.
People infected with the virus initially suffer flu-like symptoms that include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and joint pain and shortness of breath. The illness then elevates to a severe respiratory illness within about five days.
Anyone who has returned from Mexico within the last two weeks and is suffering similar symptoms is being asked to contact a physician.
Mexican health authorities said that many of those diagnosed with the illness have had to be put on ventilators.