Flu activity begins to spike across country

Flu activity begins to spike across country

According to officials, there is high flu activity throughout the state so it's important for those who have not yet gotten a flu shot-especially health care workers-to get one. Officials say there are many, many more people sick with influenza. Those at higher risk of flu complications include children under five, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. "Among hospitalizations so far this year, the highest rates that we are seeing are in those who are under age 5", said Dr. Daniel Jernigan.

The HSE is urging all people in at-risk groups for the flu to get vaccinated if they have not done so already.

"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. Just 13 per cent of lab-confirmed flu cases were among children under four in Ottawa, compared with 47 per cent among seniors over 65.

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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Canada-wide, 414 children have been hospitalized with the flu, the vast majority the H1N1 strain of influenza A, which tends to hit children hardest.

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

The flu season is far from over though. Hospitals do not offer flu shots or routinely test for the flu. "People with symptoms should stay at home and children should not attend school if showing signs of flu". Past year was especially bad, as an estimated 80,000 people died from flu complications. "It's the best protection that we have to give people against the flu", said Russell, adding that children and adolescents, adults with underlying lung or heart conditions and the elderly should make sure they are immunized.

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