Flu epidemic over but other viruses popping up in Interior Health | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Flu epidemic over but other viruses popping up in Interior Health

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With influenza season dwindling to a close, you would think the Interior Health Authority would ease up on the hand-washing message, but that’s not the case.

“Hand-washing is good for everything,” medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison said. “We never give up on that message. It’s the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from infectious diseases.”

Outbreaks of influenza at local care homes and assisted living facilities, a hallmark of the flu season, have given over to other respiratory illnesses like RSV and parainfluenza as well gastro-intestinal infections like norovirus, Goodison said.

Cases of influenza A and B will continue to appear, just not at epidemic levels, she added.

“We occassionally have outbreaks offseason and there will be cases that trickle through the summer months. The virus can hang around quite a while.”

Goodison said there have been 834 cases of influenza confirmed within the Interior Health Authority from Sept. 1, 2017 to Feb. 24, 2018, a number she described as average compared to others. That number is far below the actual number of influenza infections that actually occurred, as most cases are self-diagnosed and treated at home.

Goodison could not provide the number of deaths attributed to influenza this season.

“Our surveillence system is not set up to captures deaths caused by influenza,” she said.

If anything set this season apart, Goodison said it was the spike in influenza A and B infections happening very close together instead of weeks apart.

While this season’s vaccine proved largely ineffective against influenza A (H3N2), Goodison said it was quite effective against influenza B (H1N1).

The health authority purchased 240,000 vaccinations for the 2017-2018 influenza season.

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