Monday, 6 January 2014

Influenza H1N1 is bad this winter: 2013/2014

Flu Watch webpage
FluWatch web site
H1N1 dose
Hunkered down, with a freezing rain warning, a wind warning, and a flash freeze warning, it's seems to be a good day to stay home! The roads are terrible.

I've been amusing myself with research. To see where the flu is active in Canada, visit FluWatch. produces weekly influenza surveillance reports from October to May, but they only report laboratory-confirmed test results. I'm sure you know people who have fought this virus and won. Most of the testing has shown that over 90% of flu results indicate that it is the H1N1 that is causing these illnesses.
Canadian activity

Unfortunately, it is really hard to find specific statistics by province. Flu Watch reports all of Canada. This site collects Yahoo news of H1N1 articles.

You have to go to provincial or regional health centres, and/or local newspapers, for data broken down by province or territory and they report metropolitan area healthcare systems (i.e., the large cities). No one wants to brag about how many cases of flu they have!

Ottawa Health has had two deaths from flu and 3 outbreaks in long-term care homes. There were 81 lab-confirmed cases, but there are many who do not report and do not test for the virus. There were 22 people placed in hospital.

Toronto Health has had 210 confirmed cases, with 6 deaths. It's bad in Ontario, but the provi
Red = H1N1 "A"; Blue = Type B flu
nce of Alberta is the worst so far with 965 confirmed cases, 5 deaths.

The Vancouver  Sun reports: "About half of Fraser Health's severe cases involve "significantly overweight" patients, who are more susceptible to more serious symptoms." There were 11 cases in long-term care (a high-risk population), 20 hospitalizations, and, perhaps, one death (yet to be confirmed).

Flu Watch tells us that the very young and the very old were the most at-risk in the 2009 pandemic, but this year, 24 - 64 year olds have been more susceptible, and getting ill, as well as the very young.

Our seniors have, it seems, developed antibodies, bless their souls. There is research to show that slight exposure does build up your immunities. "The things that don't quite kill you make you stronger."
August - December 2013. They track confirmed cases only, I wonder how many unconfirmed there are?
The territories report to particular labs in provinces.

FLU 2013 TYPE A A + B
Provinces Cases Flu-related Deaths Population
Ontario 1006 1033      8 12.8m
Alberta 868 1335      9 3.6m
QC 365 462
B.C. 229 239      1 4.6m
Saskatchewan 167 167      6 1m
Manitoba 28 35
Newfoundland 15 19
N.B. 12 12 0.75m
N.S. 8 8 0.9m
PEI 1 1
Canada 2699 3311     24 35m

The cities are the worst, with people who commute.

Week 52, Geographic spread of influenza
In week 50 (December) four regions had local, sporadic activity. Methinks the holiday season spread the virus aplenty ( Figure 1 )! By week 52 you can see how they increased.

I cannot find specific data for NWT. I tried!

Ontario reports: SE Ontario is bad.
Alberta is worse.
Alberta’s H1N1 outbreak leads to rush in flu vaccinations ...
There have been 965 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta as of Jan. 1, with the H1N1strain representing 920 of those cases. There are  270 in hospital in Alberta. With 3 dead in Edmonton, 2 and dead in Calgary.
I'm amazed at the number of people who still eschew the vaccine. We hunker down in groups for winter: in schools and offices, with people who come to work quite ill. How can you NOT be exposed to the virus?! There are many who still don't cough or sneeze into their elbows. It boils down to washing your hands. There is little else to do, really. Stay home if you are ill. Get enough sleep, eat properly, exercise, and go outside to play! I find there are many personal support workers (PSW) doing home care who do not wash their hands frequently enough. I've seen them during my hospice work.

Flu shots are freely available from your Canadian physician, or from health clinics, each province/territorial health authority makes them available.

1 comment:

Kay said...

It's bad in the US also. We got our flu shots in October. I hope we didn't get it too early.