February 6, 2016 1:27 am
Updated: February 6, 2016 10:13 pm

Young and old advised to take precautions as flu cases rise

WATCH: Young and old advised to take precautions as flu cases rise. Sarah Kraus reports.


EDMONTON – New figures released by Alberta Health Services show the number of flu cases continue to rise across the province, particularly in Alberta’s capital.

On Friday, the number of confirmed influenza cases in the Edmonton zone had reached 426, up from 257 the week before. In total, there have been 283 confirmed influenza cases in Calgary.

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Over the past week, no new flu-related fatalities were reported. This year, there have been seven flu-related deaths across Alberta; five in Edmonton and two in Calgary. The Edmonton deaths were attributed to the H1N1 strain of the flu, while the Calgary deaths were attributed to the H3N2 strain.

READ MORE: ‘It’s starting to ramp up’: More Alberta flu deaths and hospitalizations prompt immunization reminder

About three weeks ago, AHS urged Albertans to get immunized amidst news the province was in the early stages of “an influenza outbreak.”

As of Feb. 5, 978 Albertans had been diagnosed with the flu and 231 had been admitted to hospital.

This season, more than one million Albertans have received the flu shot.

“When we give the shot, basically it teaches the immune system how to protect itself against it,” explained Rexall pharmacy manager Sylvie Druteika. “It pretends we’ve been exposed, so we get the anti-bodies.”

Every year, the shot is a little different. Last year’s dose missed the mark, but this year, Druteika said it appears to be much more effective.

“We don’t know which strains are going to be the most prominent, so we always have to take a chance based on the previous year’s experience,” she said.

READ MORE: Will this year’s flu shot work better than last year’s flop?

Click here to find out where you can get your flu shot.

The South East Edmonton Seniors Association has 1,400 active members and with more fragile immune systems, custodial staff routinely wipe down door knobs and equipment handles.

Executive Director, Kim Buehler, said staff also provide hygiene tips.

“People that are seniors now, we were all taught to cough or sneeze into our hands. Now children in nursing schools or elementary schools are all taught to sneeze into your elbow,” Beuhler said. “It’s a hard habit to break, but it’s an important one.”

If a senior is feeling under the weather, she advises them to stay home.

Holy Angels 24/7 Day Home has the same policy for children: “if they’re sick, they cannot come here,” said owner Jonathan Cruz.

Cruz and his staff try to teach children to stay healthy.

“We prepare them to be successful in a school setup. So basic steps like cleanliness, washing hands, brushing teeth,” he said.

If any child, even a healthy one, puts a toy in their mouth, the toy is taken away and put into a special bucket to be sanitized.

“We do have a protocol that all toys should be sanitized and cleaned at the end of the day.” A process Cruz said can take more than two hours. But it’s something he supports, especially during flu season.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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