Flu season spikes in Saskatchewan

Two Houston women in their 60s died late a year ago after battling the flu, city health officials confirmed. And among the 54 jurisdictions in the flu surveillance system (every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands), 50 reported "regional" or "widespread" flu activity at the end of a year ago.

Dr. Zeeshan Shaikh of Southwest Urgent and Family Care said this is the worst flu season he's ever seen and blames it on a number of different reasons.

A risky flu has been spreading rapidly across the US, escalating flu season earlier than usual, and to near-epidemic levels, according to the CDC.

Saskatchewan has seen 1,029 lab-confirmed cases since the beginning of September.

"Nationally, the flu season may be peaking now", said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC, during the media briefing. "It is generally less for H3N2 than it is for H1N1 or influenza B". But the severity of this flu season isn't expected to be quite as bad as the 2014-15 season, during which vaccine effectiveness was very low and there were about 700,000 hospitalizations.

As to why there's been so much flu activity in the last few weeks Jernigan explains, "It's possible that a lot of folks got together during the winter holidays and so with all those folks getting together, they're able to transmit flu and then take it and send it onto other folks..."

Flu‐like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills and fatigue.

"They can carry influenza viruses not have as many symptoms", said Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease doctor with Novant Health, "So to keep our patients safe in buildings, we say it's best if you don't bring children into the hospital to visit".

The flu season typically runs until late spring, so it's not too late to get vaccinated, Ballard said.

Four of the victims were adults and one was a child.

"There have been tremendous pockets of people being hospitalized", he said.

If that happens, Dr. Werker says this flu season could be similar to previous year. "There's never a mild flu season, and this season is on the more severe side". If you start on anti-viral medications within a day or two of when your symptoms start, your risk of serious disease, hospitalization and even death can be reduced. Health officials are continuing to urge otherwise healthy people with routine cases of flu to rest and recover at home so that emergency services are available for people with life-threatening complications.

Dean recommends people who have the flu practice good hand-washing, stay home from work and don't send children to school sick.