Flu cases ramping up in Nanaimo, including at long-term health facilities

By Dan Marshall
January 10, 2017 - 11:11am Updated: January 10, 2017 - 1:09pm

NANAIMO — Coughing, sniffling, sneezing, and a runny nose — sure signs the flu has arrived.
 
Even though we've technically been in flu season for a while, the number of cases has ramped up lately, according to Island Health. Mid-island medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback says it seems to be making its way up the island.
 
"We've certainly seen a surge in influenza activity in the last one to two weeks," said Hasselback. "It's running as a wave from the south headed north and has certainly hit the Nanaimo area hard in the last week or so."

Hasselback says the dominant strain is called H3N2, which is covered in the current vaccine being provided.

Even so, Hasselback says there has been a spike which has been noticed at hospitals and other medical facilities.

"We have outbreaks that are occurring in long-term care settings. They are being managed at this point in time. I do not have information in terms of the surge at our emergency departments, that information will take us about another week to get," said Hasselback.

Both Dufferin Place and the Nanaimo Travelers Lodge were put on Island Health's active influenza outbreak list on Monday.

Hasselback says it's never too late to get a flu shot but, if you're trying to stay ahead of the current rash of flu illnesses, getting a shot right now won't help you much.

"It does take 10-14 days for the immune system to kick in enough to prevent disease," said Hasselback. "So if you're going to get it please do so, just recognize that waiting until it has arrived at our doorstep is getting a little bit on the late side."

Numbers show many people have already taken precautions by getting a flu shot.

According to Hasselback there have been between 220,000 and 230,000 doses of vaccine given out island-wide already this flu season.

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