The number of cases of influenza, including hospitalizations and related deaths, continue to rise across Canada.
A report from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch reveals there were 1,948 positive influenza detections in the final week of December in Canada.
By the end of 2016, a total 6,180 lab-confirmed cases of flu had been detected across the country since the current season started in the early fall.
Those numbers only provide a snapshot of the total cases of the flu season so far, as most people who fall ill don’t seek medical treatment and aren’t tested to confirm the diagnosis.
According to reports from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the level of influenza activity in our region is seeing an increase as well. In the last week of December, 39 cases of laby-confirmed influenza A were reported to the Health Unit, of whom 19 were hospitalized. By the year`s end, there were 101 reported cases of the flu, 56 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Officials say there were a total of 14 Influenza outbreaks in long-term care homes, retirement homes and acute care centres by the end of the year.
Influenza A(H3N2) is the most common subtype detected, representing 99% of subtyped influenza A detections, which can cause a particularly nasty form of flu that tends to target the elderly. Adults aged 65 and older were the age group that accounted for the largest proportion of reported influenza cases.
As of December 31st, 892 Canadians had been hospitalized due to influenza and 20 deaths have been reported. Patients aged 65 and older accounted for 80 per cent of the deaths.
According to the MLHU, flu shots are available at healthcare provider offices and participating pharmacies from October to March. To find a participating flu shot clinic near you, visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The vaccine is free and available to anyone 6 months of age and older.