February 26, 2016 2:59 pm
Updated: February 27, 2016 7:50 am

Flu cases soar in Alberta as H1N1 continues to spread

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta health officials are urging people to stay home after a dramatic spike in flu cases in the province. Heather Yourex-West reports.

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The warm February weather appears to be no match for this year’s late season flu.

In the last week, Alberta Health Services has posted a significant increase in lab-confirmed cases of the illness with nearly 1,000 people falling ill in the last two weeks.

Most people who become sick with flu will not be tested, so numbers posted by AHS are usually just the tip of the iceberg with regards to what the province is experiencing.

The number of flu-related deaths has also increased since last week. Thirteen people have now died: four from Calgary, eight from Edmonton and one from Alberta’s North zone.

In Calgary, Alberta Health Services says:

  • None of the fatal cases had been immunized;
  • Three were between 18 and 64 years old;
  • One was over age 65;
  • Two had H3N2, two had H1N1.

In Edmonton:

  • Six had not been immunized;
  • One, a child, had received just one of two required doses of the flu shot;
  • One was considered fully immunized;
  • Two were under the age of 18;
  • Four were between 18 and 64 years old;
  • All eight had H1N1.

In the North Zone:

  • Victim had not been immunized;
  • Between 18 and 64 years old;
  • Had H1N1.

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Tonia Huynh, Global News)

There have also been 654 people hospitalized.

For several weeks, health officials have said the flu was putting additional pressure on hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centres.

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Tonia Huynh, Global News)

 

On its website, AHS advises people to stay home as much as possible if they are feeling ill.

“If you have symptoms of illness, including fever, cough, headache and extreme tiredness, stay home from work, school, daycare, or any social function.”

The flu shot is still available from AHS and pharmacies, although in Calgary,  flu clinics are now only open on Saturdays.

Although the Alberta Health Services website had indicated Friday that most clinics in Edmonton have now closed for the season, a spokesperson tells Global News the AHS website was not showing correct information. All clinics are still open and AHS is working to correct the problem.

The province had hoped to immunize 2-million Albertans against the flu, but interest in the vaccine has been low.

As of Feb. 25, only 1.1-million doses had been dispensed across the province.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to say that the fatal flu case in the north zone had not been immunized, a previous version of the story incorrectly said they had been immunized. The story has also been updated to say nearly 1,000 people have fallen ill in the past 2 weeks, instead of within the last 7 days as an earlier version stated

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