Flu outbreaks come and go, but danger still present

Plenty of vaccines still available around Capital Region

Medical clinics and Vancouver Island hospitals are having a tough time keeping up with the rapidly increasing number of people suffering a severe strain of flu.

“It’s been very busy in the last couple of weeks,” said Dr. Murray Fyfe, Vancouver Island Health Authority chief medical health officer.

And it’s getting worse, especially among the elderly, he said. “We’re seeing more and more influenza in the community.”

Older people, especially those with existing medical conditions, are particularly susceptible to this year’s strain, called A-H3N2, which leaves them sicker than other strains, he said.

Two Capital Region long-term health care facilities, including Mt. Tolmie Hospital in Saanich, were hit with severe outbreaks around Christmas, but have since returned to normal. Infected patients were treated with Tamiflu, which weakens the illness and shortens its duration, Fyfe said. During the outbreaks, no new patients were admitted, visits were restricted and outside activities were cancelled.

A check with Mt. Tolmie medical staff found there were no deaths attributed to the flu or the medical complications it causes.

However, Fyfe said it is not uncommon for older patients to die from flu complications, and he expects the number of flu deaths this season on Vancouver Island to surpass 200, the approximate yearly average.

As for flu-related hospital admissions, they are on the increase. It’s expected that more than 400 patients will be admitted by the time the annual flu season tapers off around the end of February.

Fyfe said A-H3N2 is included in included in this year’s vaccine. And because VIHA expected this year’s outbreak to be worse than the H1NI pandemic scare two years ago, there’s a lot of vaccine available.

Nurses have so far immunized about 33,000 people and another 165,000-plus doses have been distributed to doctors and drug stores. Many pharmacists are now licensed to administer the vaccine.

Those who haven’t yet been immunized should get to it quickly, because the vaccine takes takes up to two weeks to fully kick in, Fyfe said.

So far there have been no major flu outbreaks at schools, but Fyfe warns that could still change.

As well, several respiratory, cold-like viruses that mimic flu symptoms are going around and can’t be treated by any vaccine.

editor@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria non-profit advocates for the use of psilocybin for terminal patients

North Saanich psychotherapist pushes for alternative treatment

Victoria woman to sell masks on wheels after garage stand shut down

Mama’s Masks stand accompanied Moss Street Market

Sooke Bluffs staircase closed due to rot

District to consider replacement for ‘high risk’ staircase in fall

Gathering marks 10 years since nearly 500 asylum-seekers landed off Victoria shore

The 492 people fleeing violence, war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka were detained for months

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read