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Vancouver Island's first H1N1 death reported

A woman from Beecher Bay First Nation, near Victoria, has become Vancouver Island's first H1N1 fatality, while controversy has erupted over this morning's report of an H1N1 outbreak around Tofino.

According to reports from and the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the woman died at Victoria General Hospital on Wednesday night. Her name and age were not released.

In a media conference, VIHA chief medical officer of health Dr. Richard Stanwick reported that a child from Beecher Bay is in hospital with suspected H1N1, and that a third patient, from another community, is in critical condition with flu symptoms.

In related news, a VIHA spokesperson has criticized the Canadian Medical Association Journal for reporting a flu outbreak around Tofino. According to a report by The Canadian Press:

A Vancouver Island Health Authority official is calling the Canadian Medical Association Journal "irresponsible and inflammatory" for saying a native community in the area is the first to experience an H1N1 outbreak this flu season.

Shannon Marshall, media contact for VIHA, told The Tyee that the CMAJ had called VIHA after the Ahousat report was published "to confirm some details after the fact."

Marshall added that "Vancouver Island First Nations have done an outstanding job of pandemic preparation."

Meanwhile, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirmed that Dr. David Patrick had sent an email to the CMAJ, suggesting it check with local authorities before publishing such reports. As of Thursday afternoon, CMAJ had not yet published the email on its letters page.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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