Killer disease surfaces
RSV cases found in Yellowknife, Hay River, Keewatin region

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - A potential killer - respiratory synticial virus - is on the loose and the territories' top disease detective is warning that RSV is on its way here.

The disease causes blockage of the smaller, undeveloped air passages of small children and infants.

It has been detected in several Keewatin communities already and there's been one case in Hay River and one in Yellowknife

"We expect some more cases after the March break," said NWT medical officer Dr. Andre Corriveau. "Travellers to the south usually bring the disease back here."

Although the disease peaked in southern Canada at the end of February, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have the highest rates right now, places many Northern children will be travelling to.

Basic hygiene, including keeping hands washed, will help keep the sometimes deadly disease under control.

Last year two infants in Arviat died and several others from around the Keewatin region were medevaced to southern hospitals after contracting the disease.

A self-imposed quarantine by the mayor of Rankin Inlet and the closing of primary classes in schools helped keep the disease under control.

Corriveau said his department is keeping on top of the virus and tracking its path, but there's not much else the medical community can do beyond educating the public.