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Train quarantined after 1 dies and 10 others get sick

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  • Train quarantined after 1 dies and 10 others get sick

    TORONTO, Ontario (AP) -- A passenger train was placed under quarantine Friday in northern Ontario after an undetermined illness left one woman dead and at least 10 other people sick.
    Authorities said the train was carrying 230 passengers and 30 crew members. Police ordered the train station evacuated in the tiny hamlet of Foleyet.
    The outbreak appeared to be contained to two cars on the train, authorities said.
    The cross-country Via Rail passenger train was en route from Vancouver to Toronto. Emergency personnel received a call Friday morning and the train was met at the station in Foleyet, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) northwest of Toronto.
    Police said that as many as 10 people are ill with flu-like symptoms, and at least one person was airlifted to a local hospital. No one was being allowed on board the train without protective gear.
    Steve Trinier, the local director of ambulance services, told The Associated Press that the cause of the outbreak had not been determined yet. He said one person had been taken to a hospital and is in stable condition.
    "It could be something of the nature of SARS, but that doesn't appear to be the case given that the person in hospital now is stable," Trinier said. "There's certainly a possibility of something as simple as food poisoning and also an environmental toxin of some sort."
    Trinier said that authorities are restricting passengers from leaving the train until they know more. A doctor is onboard.
    Police Const. Marc Depatie told CBC-TV there were unconfirmed reports that the woman who died had flulike symptoms when she boarded the train with a group of tourists in Jasper, Alberta. He said that seven other members of her party are experiencing similar but not extreme flu-like symptoms.
    Deborah DesRochers, chairwoman of Foleyet, said the scene was chaotic as emergency vehicles rushed to the scene.
    "The whole place is being overrun with ambulances and police cars, and we've got helicopters," she said. "They've got the train quarantined. They're trying to isolate what it is."
    A spokeswoman for Via Rail said the train departed Vancouver three days ago and had not reported any problems before Friday.
    Health care workers in Jasper are on alert for anyone showing up at local facilities with symptoms of norovirus, Aspen Regional Health Authority spokesman Scott Donaldson said.
    "We're monitoring the situation," Donaldson said. "We haven't seen anybody with signs of norovirus."
    Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the stomach flu, or gastroenteritis. They also are sometimes called Norwalk-like viruses, and are highly contagious. Most people get better after a day or two.
    In recent years, cruise ships have become famous norovirus carriers, with several large outbreaks grabbing headlines.
    The Public Health Agency of Canada says deaths have occurred in long-term health care facilities during norovirus outbreaks, but it is difficult to say to what extent the norovirus caused death in already frail or sick people