We’re getting awfully sick of writing about how cold it is this winter. Although we’ve had a few days here and there where temperatures have gotten above normal, it feels like every warm day comes with a dump of snow, and another Arctic air mass rushes in behind to drive temperatures way, way down again.
Maybe worse than the cold, however, is the flu.
It’s concerning to read about a spike of influenza cases in B.C. and Alberta, which may be headed our way.
At least 20 people in B.C. have been sent to intensive care with the flu in recent days, including more than a dozen who have had to be put on ventilators to help them breathe. In Alberta, five deaths have been confirmed due to flu. In Saskatchewan, three.
This flu, an H1N1 variant similar to the flu that caused the 2009 pandemic, appears to hit younger people harder than other types of flus.
Very young children — those born after the 2009 pandemic — will have the toughest time fighting this flu, since they won’t have any antibodies to the older strain, which could provide some partial protection.
The latest numbers from Manitoba Health, from the end of December, show that flu numbers here are also beginning to spike. In the last week of December, nearly one in every six visits to a doctor was for flu-like symptoms — a 60 per cent increase from the week before. Thankfully, however, there have been no flu-related deaths yet reported, and just a single patient with confirmed flu has needed treatment in intensive care. A total of eight Manitobans have been admitted to hospital.
At last word, none of the confirmed flu cases in this province had been reported in Westman. However, it is just a matter of time.
If you find yourself suffering from flu symptoms — chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat and headache or muscle pains —we urge you to stay at home and avoid infecting others. If you are really ill, see a doctor.
But of course, it’s best to not get sick in the first place. Did you get the flu vaccine? Manitoba Health says that less than 15 per cent of Manitobans did.
Although dedicated flu shot clinics are now over, it’s still possible to get vaccinated at many doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics and even pharmacies.
Because if there’s anything worse than this frigid weather, it’s being sick in this frigid weather.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 7, 2014