Wednesday April 23, 2014



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Fighting the flu

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Metro Photo

The flu shot in one way to avoid getting the influenza virus.

The North is being hit harder with the flu than any other area in the province.

"We know (the flu season's) hit sooner and somewhat harder," said Eryn Collins, a spokeswoman for Northern Health. "Influenza's already circulating here across the region."

According to recent statistics from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the number of reported influenza claims in the northern part of the province – which includes Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, and many other areas – is seeing about one per cent of all submitted claims done by general practitioner doctors with an influenza code, according to an influenza bulletin for the first week of January available on the BCCDC website.

In comparison, the provincial average is around 0.75 per cent, and many other areas are seeing a smaller percentage of their own claims.

This amount is higher than the four other regions available around the province, which have so far not broken the one per cent mark, according to the CDC bulletin.

While the number of claims with the influenza code mostly followed the ten-year median numbers, they quickly jumped after Dec. 18 in the northern part of the province.

According to another surveillance bulletin put out earlier, as influenza activity began to spike during the final weeks of 2012.

However, Collins said that these numbers reported by doctors could not accurately reflect the number of true flu cases that the northern portion of the province has seen.

"These cases are only lab confirmed, and wouldn't represent the whole population."

Some people may have the flu, but have chosen not to go to the hospital to be tested.

Collins said she could not provide the case numbers for influenza claims seen within the Dawson Creek and Fort St. John region.

Collins said that her office keeps track of outbreaks of the virus within locations such as schools or care homes, but that no warning had been placed out for any schools or care homes within the Dawson Creek or Fort St. John area for influenza.

Collins also commented that B.C. as a whole had not been immune to flu season.

In response, Northern Health has asked to people to be vigilant regarding their visits to hospitals and other health care facilities.

"These illnesses are circulating in the general community, increasing the likelihood that long-term

care residents, hospital patients and staff in some facilities will come down with a contagious virus

at some point," said Dr. David Bowering, acting chief medical health officer for Northern Health.

"We need the help of visitors to these facilities in limiting the spread of these illnesses."

The health authority is encouraging people to stay at home if they don't feel well and not return to school or work until their symptoms have passed. As well, washing your hands frequently with water and soap.


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