Syrian Refugee Flu Outbreak Drains Edmonton Agency's Resources

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OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19: A Walgreens employee holds a syringe during a free flu shot clinic at Allen Temple Baptist Church on December 19, 2014 in Oakland, California. Oakland residents received no cost flu shots during a flu shot clinic at Allen Temple Baptist Church. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

EDMONTON — A group of Syrian refugees has been given more than they bargained for upon their recent arrival in Edmonton — a lot of them have gotten the flu.

Jason Gariepy of Catholic Social Services says the agency is assisting approximately 254 Syrians and about half of the children in that group have fallen ill.

He says adults have also caught it, but only one person required a hospital stay.

Gariepy says the refugees did not arrive in Canada with any pre-existing conditions and just had the unfortunate timing of showing up in Edmonton at the peak of flu season.

Gariepy says the mini-epidemic is draining CSS resources, with staff making three to five trips per day to medical clinics and hospitals.

An Arabic-speaking doctor is now coming in to the CSS welcome centre to see the refugees twice a week to reduce the need to transport them, and they are receiving flu shots.

(Global Edmonton)

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