Report shows higher incidence of 2009 H1N1 in Canada

A report released this Tuesday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that over 15,000 Canadians were hospitalized between April and December 2009 for H1N1, which is 6,500 more than the previously reported amount.

Approximately two-thirds of the hospitalizations took place in a five week period between October and November 2009, according to the report, which considered both probable and confirmed H1N1 cases, the Star reports.

Of all hospitalizations during the five week heightened period, H1N1 cases accounted for 3.4 percent which outnumbered common ailments like heart attacks, joint replacement surgery and strokes.

“Although it was a relatively mild flu, there were still 15,000 people sick enough to be admitted to hospital,” Kathleen Morris, head of emerging issues at CIHI, said, according to the Star. “What we saw overall was the hospital system was able to manage, and the plans they had laid out as part of their pandemic planning seemed to work.”

The spike in admitted patients came out to around two percent higher than a typical year. Hospitals dealt with the volume by using strategies from pre-designed pandemic plans. Some provinces like Ontario had the benefit of experience from others, including Manitoba and Quebec, which had been involved in the first wave of the pandemic. This allowed them to prepare with extra ventilators, a trained staff and planning exercises, the Star reports.

“The report is helpful in reminding us that we need to continue planning for these kinds of surge situations in the event something worse occurs, with more impact,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Arlene King said, the Star reports.