Health officials say some people at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital have tested positive for the swine flu.

"It's the only outbreak in a hospital that has been reported to us," Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the city's associate medical officer of health, told a Wednesday news conference.

Two staff members and one patient tested positive. The outbreak is reportedly restricted to one ward.

In addition, a number of schools have reported higher absenteeism linked to flu-like illness, she said.

At a hastily-arranged Wednesday evening news conference, Mount Sinai's Dr. Alison McGeer said they called the cases an outbreak, but said that's standard terminology and shouldn't cause anyone any alarm.

"We declare them because it's a mechanism of ensuring that we have precautions in place," said the hospital's director of infection control. "And for us in Toronto, where we share a lot of patients and staff from hospital to hospital, declaring outbreaks is a mechanism of communication from one hospital to the next, so everyone is on the same page."

McGeer also said when people see deaths or critical illness, they think things are worse than usual. "This pandemic is not causing more deaths than seasonal influenza," she said.

SickKids overrun

Meanwhile, the Hospital for Sick Children has reported seeing a surge of patients with flu symptoms overnight after public health officials confirmed a seemingly healthy Toronto teen died from complications of the swine flu virus.

Dr. Anne Matlow, director of the infection prevention and control at Sick Kids, told reporters Wednesday that the hospital saw double the amount of patients they usually see at this time of year.

More than 300 patients came through the hospital's emergency department in the last 24 hours, with the majority of them complaining of flu-like symptoms.

She said most of them had mild symptoms and were sent home to rest.

Matlow said the hospital usually sees that many patients during the height of influenza season. This year, the influx came early because of the young teen Evan Frustaglio's tragic death and what she called "media hysteria."

Nonetheless, the teen's parents are speaking out to encourage extra vigilance around those exhibiting symptoms of the flu.

Their emotional message comes as thousands of people flock to flu clinics across the country to be immunized against the virus, which is also known as H1N1.

Clinics also reported seeing a influx of people yesterday after news broke of 13-year-old 's death.

Teen's parents speak out

Paul Frustaglio, his wife Ann-Marie and their young son Will spoke to CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday to explain how their son's heart stopped beating after contracting what seemed like a mild case of the flu.

Evan died Monday, three days after complaining to his mom about a sore throat. Ann-Marie Frustaglio, who works as a registered nurse, said his condition seemed mild.

"It progressed to a little bit of a cough and we figured it's a cough, okay, and from there it didn't seem like much more than that," she said, fighting back tears.

Evan and his mom were at a hockey tournament in London, Ont. over the weekend. By Sunday morning, the family packed for home after Evan developed a fever.

"He came home and rested. I fed him some homemade chicken soup which he liked," she said. "He drank lots of liquids."

By Monday, Evan's fever had subsided but his father Paul decided to stay home and watch over his son, encouraging his wife to return to work.

In the morning, Evan complained of having a mild stomach ache and pain in his legs. About 10 minutes after having a bath, Evan went back to the bathroom and collapsed.

"As I'm picking him up, he kind of lost life," said Paul, his voice breaking. "I said, 'Wake up, come on son, let's get back to your room,' but at that point there was no response."

Despite performing CPR, Frustaglio was unable to revive his son. Neither could the paramedics who rushed to the family's Etobicoke home.

"They just couldn't get his little heart going," he said.

"It was like a lightning bolt. It struck him at that moment and I couldn't do anything about it. It's the worst feeling in the world when you can't look after your child," he said, breaking down.

Evan's mother said parents need to make sure they do whatever they can to ensure they are getting the right medical advice concerning their children.

"Force second and third opinions until you get the answer you need," she said crying and clutching the hand of her husband and remaining son.

"This is a terrible, terribly tragedy and it's going to be day-to-day for us."


Evan's death raised concerns amongst parents and the general public as thousands flocked to flu clinics across Canada to get immunized against the H1N1 virus.

Some clinics reported delays of about three hours.

Matlow said the Hospital for Sick Children brought in staff from other wards to help with the overflow of patients.

"Most children are being sent home so there is not any level of back up," she said.

Telehealth Ontario, a provincial hotline staffed by registered nurses, also claimed a surge in phone calls yesterday. At one point, callers said they were being told it would be about nine hours before they received a call back from a doctor. By Wednesday afternoon, Telehealth officials said callers would have to wait about 90 minutes.

On a typical day, a Telehealth caller will get a call back within 18 minutes.

Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious disease expert, said Evan Frustaglio's case is a tragedy but that there is no need for panic.

"This is a horrible story for any parent but the truth is that this is the medical equivalent of lightning striking," he said. "It's an incredibly rare event that occurs in about one in 250,000 cases."

He said the incident should remind people who are at high risk of contracting the disease to get the flu shot.

Medical officials say symptoms of the H1N1 virus are similar to the regular flu.

They include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Some have also reported vomiting and diarrhea as symptoms.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Galit Solomon and files from The Canadian Press