B.C. facing worst flu season in recent years
Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013 5:41PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 2, 2013 9:22PM PST
Early infection numbers suggest British Columbia may be in for its worst flu season since the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, health experts say.
The BC Centre for Disease Control said the dominant influenza subtype hitting the province this year is the H3N2 virus, a nasty strain that presents a particular risk to people with chronic health conditions and the elderly.
The Centre’s Dr. Danuta Skowronski said there’s nothing to suggest the province is facing a pandemic-level outbreak similar to the one that killed dozens of people four years ago, but flu season did start early and is on track to be worse than recent years.
“We’ve had some fairly mild seasons in the last few years since the pandemic,” Skowronski said. “It’s too soon to make a call about whether this is going to be a very severe influenza season, but it’s definitely increasing.”
Skowronski said the spike in cases could be related to the frequent social mixing of the holidays.
“Grandparents are mixing with young children, adults are mixing, partying with coworkers, friends and so on,” she said. “So we do expect influenza spread to be facilitated over the holiday period.”
The Fraser Health Authority confirmed it has also already dealt with as many as 10 influenza outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
The flu season is expected to continue for another few weeks, and officials urge anyone who hasn’t been immunized to seek a vaccination immediately.
Skowronski said anyone showing symptoms is also advised to take an appropriate number of sick days to avoid unnecessary transmissions. The BCCDC has been spreading the catch phrase: “Fever and cough, take the week off.”
The elderly and people with high-risk health conditions are also urged to consider early anti-viral treatment.
In order to be effective, the treatment optimally should begin within 48 hours of influenza symptoms, which can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness and coughing.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Michele Brunoro