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Athlete quarantined for H1N1 virus at Canada Summer Games

The Canadian Press

8/19/2009 6:59:31 PM

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. -- There may be a case of swine flu at the Canada Summer Games.

An athlete was tested for the H1N1 virus and quarantined Wednesday after exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

"The athlete has been isolated as per our H1N1 guidelines and we are waiting for test results before our medical services division can make any further comment," said Nicole Phillips, a spokesperson for the 2009 Canada Games host society.

Canada Games officials would not identify which province or sport the athlete was from.

Test results were expected back Thursday.

Canada Games medical staff and P.E.I. public health officials have said they were taking every precaution to prevent a swine flu outbreak that could have devastating effects on such a large sporting event. Some 4,400 athletes, coaches and officials are living and competing in close proximity during the Games, which opened Saturday and run through Aug. 29.

Every athlete was pre-screened before leaving for P.E.I., and every athlete had their temperature taken upon arrival.

Any athlete displaying influenza symptoms was to be quarantined until receiving clearance from both the Games medical staff and public health officials. The isolation area is a house on the grounds of Slemon Park, also site of the Athletes Village and the Games medical centre.

Dr. David MacKenzie, the chief medical officer for the Canada Games, said earlier in the week that the large number of athletes living in close quarters is a cause for concern for any viral outbreak. Numerous athletes were sidelined by the Norwalk virus at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse.

"I think it's the environment moreso, this is similar to a camp environment, so it becomes more of an issue for us," MacKenzie told The Canadian Press. "It's not just the H1N1, any kind of viral flu-ish type of thing going through a community such as this would spread fairly quickly if it was not identified."

The sporting world has seen its fair share of swine flu outbreaks. There were three reported cases -- athletes from Argentina, Uganda, and Australia -- at the World University Games last month in Belgrade, Serbia.

In Major League Soccer, L.A. Galaxy striker Landon Donovan tested positive for the H1N1 virus last week, along with two Galaxy staff members, and in Sao Paolo, Brazil, a judge ordered fans attending a Brazilian league match earlier this month between Santos and Curitiba to wear masks due to swine flu fears.

Texas Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla was sidelined last month with swine flu. He's believed to have been the first professional athlete in the U.S. to contract the illness.

Nearly half of the 99 players on Duke University's football team were treated recently for what was believed to be related to the H1N1 virus.

The World Health Organization is discussing with South Africa possible measures for next year's World Cup to protect hundreds of thousands of soccer fans from swine flu.

The number of deaths officially associated with the swine flu virus in Canada is more than 65, although health officials say most people with H1N1 suffer only mild illness.