Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
Help
Follow

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

Enter your email to subscribe. Unsubscribe anytime. We may send you promotional messages.
Please read our privacy policy.

Flu cases down, but officials still stress precautions

Post-New Year’s blast of snow and cold aside, the winter has been relatively mild. It’s a welcome reprieve from the past couple of years for those who aren’t fans of the season.

Another plus this year has been a reduction in the number of flu cases. There’s been a bug going around since the start of flu season – it runs November to March – but instances are down, as is the severity.

The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that influenza A(H3N2) has been the most common subtype affecting Canadians. An increase in the number of influenza A(H1N1) cases – you may recall that strain – were noted as 2015 was winding down.  Influenza levels have  been below expected levels for this time of the year. That, too, is a welcome relief, as last season saw the highest levels of flu and resultant hospitalizations and death that we’d seen in the past five years.

In 2014-15, some 8,000 Canadians were hospitalized due to the flu. About 600 people died. Compare that to 2011-12, for instance, when the relative numbers were 2,000 and 100 to see why officials would be quite happy to see the current low numbers continue right through the season. To date, the majority of influenza laboratory detections and hospitalizations have been in seniors greater than 65 years of age, typically the largest at-risk group.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t warning us to take precautions – that said, the “get a flu shot” push has been much quieter this year.

The lessening of both the number of cases and the virulence of H1N1 is also welcome news. The virus is unusual in that it appears to affect younger people more than other strains of seasonal influenza. People aged 20 to 65 are being hit harder than usual, comprising 52 per cent of flu cases. Normally, 80 per cent of people who die from seasonal flu are 65 years of age or older, but during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, between 62 and 85 per cent of those who died were younger than 65.

During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, the virus caused more than 284,000 deaths worldwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At that time, the World Health Organization declared H1N1 as a pandemic virus. However, the virus is now circulating like a seasonal influenza virus.

While there’s been  a downgrading of H1N1’s impact, we’re still being told to take precautions, beginning with frequent hand-washing.

The seasonal flu vaccine remains the best protection against flu viruses. Everyone over the age of six months is encouraged to get the vaccine, argues the Public Health Agency of Canada. The flu vaccine is especially important for those who are more likely to get seriously ill or suffer complications if they catch the flu.

Got the shot previously, so think you’re fine? Think again, says the agency. Getting the flu shot every year is important because the vaccine is reformulated annually. Flu viruses are constantly changing and your immunity levels following vaccination decrease over time, which is why a flu vaccine is needed each year. Flu vaccine is made up of the flu strains that research suggests will cause the most illness in each year’s flu season.

If those precautions are the biggest worry we’ve got right now, the year is off to a pretty good start.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

Enter your email to subscribe. Unsubscribe anytime. We may send you promotional messages.
Please read our privacy policy.

Total
0
Shares



Related Posts
Total
0
Share