Flu-monitoring program seeks B.C. health practitioners to evaluate illnesses

A woman is silhouetted as she uses a tissue to blow her nose in Toronto on Friday, November 21, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

VANCOUVER - The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says the flu season begins in a just a few weeks and more doctors and nurses must help monitor outbreaks while evaluating the quality of this year's vaccine.

Health care practitioners are urged to join the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network, which has sites in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The unique system helps track the effectiveness of tailor-made flu jabs produced annually to match changing strains of the flu virus.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski of B.C.'s disease control centre hopes more doctors and nurses in the western province will agree to receive special kits to evaluate flu-like illnesses, and human responses to new vaccines.

There's concern because the 2014 influenza vaccine was a poor match for the H3N2 virus that caused most of the outbreaks last fall and winter.

Skowronski says that meant care facilities were hit by the highest number of flu cases in more than a decade, so the potency of new vaccines must be closely observed.

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