Flu season surging and likely not at peak in Canada, doctors say

Maricruz Casares
Enero 9, 2019

Ottawa, in contrast, was seeing a lower rate of influenza overall and among children than the national rates as of the end of the year (the most recent numbers). "This year's vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and it is not too late to get the vaccine".

Ottawa Public Health officials warn that flu has not yet peaked and the level of influenza being seen in other parts of Canada could be coming to Ottawa.

Those in at-risk groups include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with chronic illness.

There have been high rates of children hospitalized across the country this year.

"We're really just now getting into our flu season", said Dr. Michelle Murti of Public Health Ontario, noting that the proportion of tests on people with respiratory bugs that came back positive for influenza had doubled to 16 per cent in the week ending December 29, compared to eight per cent the week before. According to the hospital's press release, the ban will take effect on Wednesday and last "for the remainder of this flu season".

Still, respiratory viruses of all kinds have been keeping CHEO busy with the emergency department seeing very high volumes and inpatient units at more than 100 per cent.

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Those previous seasons were dominated by H3N2, an influenza A strain that is particularly hard on older adults and which typically carries a higher risk of complications like pneumonia that can lead to hospitalization or death, said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, epidemiology lead of influenza and emerging respiratory pathogens at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The viruses circulating this year are another reason for the milder season.

Ottawa Public Health offers flu shots, by appointment, for children under five (613 580-6744).

Since September, PHAC says 414 children under age 16 have been hospitalized for flu, with the highest estimated rate of admission among kids under five years of age. Healthcare workers should also get the vaccine to protect themselves and those that they care for.

It's been less severe so far this year, but federal health officials say they're now seeing sharp increases in flu activity nationwide.

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