London’s 2019 flu season has been ‘predictable’ so far: health unit
While 17 flu-related deaths have been recorded between September 1, 2018 and March 23, 2019 in the London region, that number is significantly lower when compared to the preceding season.
From September 2017 to May 2018, 43 flu-related deaths were recorded by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
In total, last flu season saw over 800 confirmed cases, with nearly half of them cases of influenza B. During the current flu season, there have been 409 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A and just three cases of influenza B.
“I think that really is actually more reflective of how intense last year was,” said Dr. Alexander Summers, associate medical officer of health.
“One of the reasons this year [has] been better is we’ve had a better match with our flu vaccine, so the flu vaccine’s been more effective against the strains of flu that are circulating. We’ve also seen more people take the flu shot this year.
“I think those two things combined made for a bit of a better season.”
WATCH: Mid-season estimates show this year’s flu vaccine to be 72% effective (January, 2019)
Summers added, however, that even when the flu shot is not a good match, it’s still the best tool to decrease the number of people going to hospital or dying from influenza. He also noted that, like any vaccine, it’s important that as many people as possible receive it.
“You might consider yourself to be a pretty healthy person, you can weather these things, but still when you get the flu you’re going to feel terrible,” he explained.
“The really important thing is that there are those around you who, if they get the flu, they can get really sick. By getting the flu shot, you’re protecting yourself, you’re protecting them.”
This late in the season, Summers stressed that hand-washing and avoiding public places when you feel ill are the two best practices to decrease the spread of influenza.
“Make sure you wash your hands, particularly when you get home from a day out or when you’re sitting down to have a meal. If you’re not feeling well, if you’ve got that runny nose, if you’ve got a cough, if you’re feeling feverish — stay at home from work or school.”
The most recent influenza surveillance report from the MLHU states that 27 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A were reported between March 17 and 23, along with 16 hospitalizations. The health unit was also notified of the deaths of three people previously reported to have had the flu.
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