H1N1 flu virus confirmed in the Interior

There have been 60 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap, Interior Health senior medical office Dr. Andrew Larder told the Tribune Tuesday.

“We have been doing surveillance since the beginning of September and from then until the end of January there have been 60 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region,” Larder said.

“The lab-confirmed cases represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to influenza activity.”

During the peak of the flu season — mid to the end of January — the provincial government tracks the proportion of doctor’s visits that are due to flu-like illness, Larder said.

In Interior Health during the last two weeks of January, less than one per cent of the visits to doctors were by people with flu-like symptoms.

Influenza is a respiratory infection with typical symptoms being a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes, muscle aches and pains.

“Most people will deal with the infection. It will be a miserable week or so, but they will recover,” Larder said.

Influenza normally lasts seven to 10 days so if it persists beyond that it could mean a secondary infection and possibly time to check in with a doctor, he added.

There have been three deaths of people within Interior Health who had lab-confirmed influenza.

A woman in her 50s died in the Okanagan in December and two people died in January.

“There was a man in his 30s from the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap who died in mid January and a female in her 70s from the Okanagan who died the last week of January,” Larder said.

Larder was not able to disclose further details of the deaths, however, said the province’s surveillance of H1N1-related deaths has shown more than 90 per cent of the H1N1 deaths occurred in people with underlying conditions.

“In that respect, it’s typical flu,” Larder said.

“It tends to effect people with underlying medical conditions much more severely.”

Another shipment of flu vaccines will be distributed to doctors offices and pharmacists this week.

“The public health units have always had vaccines through the season, but it’s been a bit limited and in short supply to some extent,” he said.


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