NRGH, seniors facilities on outbreak list as influenza activity spikes again

By NanaimoNewsNOW Staff
March 22, 2019 - 5:27pm

Scenes like this are common around mid-island homes recently, as a late-season surge of influenza makes the rounds.File photo/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — The second wave of the flu season is hitting the mid-island hard.

Three Island Health facilities are currently on the active outbreak list due to influenza A: the rehab unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, and facility-wide outbreaks at Malaspina Gardens in south Nanaimo and Stanford Seniors Village in Parksville.

"What's happening in facilities is really a representation of what's probably circulating at the larger community level. The influenza virus has been introduced into those facilities from the outside," medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns told NanaimoNewsNOW.

Enns said the second spike in activity this season is unique because the current active strain (H3N2) is different than the one which circulated in January (H1N1). She said while it's not unusual to have a second spike towards the end of a season, seeing varied strains is.

"Every year influenza just does something a little different. It's always clearer when we look back on it than when we're in the middle of it. This is why the influenza vaccine contains more than one strain it protects against. Our vaccine this year protects against both of the strains we've seen."

During outbreaks, Enns said care facilities seriously limit activity or unnecessary access to the location. Anyone who is going to one of the locations is urged to be vaccinated and engage in stringent hand-washing.

Overall, Enns said the number of cases this flu season was fairly typical for the mid-island region.

"We have some interesting things from this year...the first wave of activity mainly affected youth, children and non-senior adults. Normally we see seniors impacted more, but that's not how the flu season started off. Although, that's how it's ending."

Meanwhile, the BC Centre for Disease Control said the province in general is in the throes of a late-season wave of the flu.

The agency's data showed there was a 50 per cent jump in flu cases in the most recent three-week period on record ending March 16.

People are encouraged to practice good hygiene and stay home if they're sick.

 

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