Train quarantined after passengers report illness

Saturday, May 10, 2008

TORONTO -- Authorities quarantined a train in Ontario Friday after a woman died and several others reported being ill. But a doctor later ruled out a serious infectious disease and said the train would likely soon resume its journey.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer, said an elderly woman who died on the train did not have an infectious disease and the illnesses were unrelated.

A passenger who was airlifted to a hospital and five others who reported being sick had unrelated minor illnesses, Williams said. He called it a confluence of three different events.

One person was hospitalized in stable condition, said Laurel Ostfield, a spokeswoman for Ontario's minister of health.

"The origin of the illness that caused the passenger death is unknown at this time," Williams said. "Lab tests [to date have] eliminated a number of serious infectious illnesses."

Officials were keeping passengers from leaving the train, said Steve Trinier, the director of ambulance services in the area.

The train, carrying 269 passengers and 30 crew members, was being held in the station in the town of Foleyet, 500 miles northwest of Toronto. The station was evacuated.

The cross country Via passenger train was headed from Vancouver to Toronto when emergency officials received a call Friday morning and met the train in Foleyet.

Health officials were on the alert for norovirus, which can cause stomach flu and can be caught through contact with infected people or by touching or ingesting contaminated items.

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