Vancouver – The most recent influenza surveillance bulletin shows a sharp increase in influenza activity during the final weeks of 2012.
Across the province, indicators showed a spike of influenza activity. More people went to the doctor with flu-like symptoms and the proportion of those who received a flu diagnosis was among the highest seen in the past decade for this time period.
Consultations for influenza-like illness increased at the BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, and were higher than in recent years. There was also an increase in laboratory confirmed cases of influenza.
There were seven influenza outbreaks in long-term care facilities for a total of 16 so far this season. The return of children to school next week may result in more reports of influenza cases at schools.
The main strain of flu in circulation this year is H3N2. The H3N2 subtype is one of three kinds of influenza included in this year’s influenza vaccine.
It is not too late for people to get a flu shot. People with underlying chronic conditions, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are encouraged to get their flu shot now rather than waiting, and if they get sick to consider taking an antiviral medication. Antivirals work best when taken as early as possible, preferably within the first 48 hours of illness onset.
Flu shots are available at a wide variety of locations across the province, including public health clinics, physician’s offices and pharmacies.
Other ways to prevent the spread of flu are to wash your hands, stay home when sick and sneeze or cough in the crook of your arm.
Increased influenza activity is expected for this time of year. The flu season generally lasts from November to April.
The BC Centre for Disease Control monitors influenza closely and issues regular influenza surveillance bulletins during flu season.
The BCCDC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities.
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Provincial Health Services Authority
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