Interior Health warns to be vigilant against the flu

Medical health officer from IHA talks about the latest influenza strain and how to avoid it.

‘I opened up the window and in-flu-enza.’ It’s an old joke but it also illustrates the fact that residents need to be cautious at this time of year with several cases of the flu being reported in the region.

“Throughout the province there are positive tests for influenza virus including your region,” said Peter Barss, medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority.

“We have lots of outbreaks going on at the moment in the region. There’s cases at care facilities for the elderly, schools and, of course, individual cases like families.”

Barss says most of the recent cases are of influenza strain AH3N2.

“It seems the vaccine includes that strain,” he said. “Each year scientists who prepare the vaccine have to estimate what type of virus there will be. Sometimes it can change unexpectedly but as far as we know, the vaccine is proving to have the right type of dead viruses in it to protect people.

We still recommend that people do get immunized. We do see a big peak in late December/January. Since the vaccine is working well, it’s certainly recommended if anyone is concerned.”

Barss recommends contacting your local public health unit (Castlegar Health Centre).

“You can be immunized there,” he said. “The public health nurses are very expert at this. You just need to make an appointment.”

Interior Health also suggests avoiding crowds is the best way to minimize exposure to any potential viruses.

“The virus spreads by coughing,” he said. “When people cough, they get a big blast of sort of aerosol of moisture droplets with viruses. So, people should be thoughtful of others and stay home when they’re sick if possible. Viruses also spread from direct contact from the nose, the hands and so on. So it’s a good idea to wash your hands often, especially after touching objects others might’ve touched or even shaking hands.”


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