By Gillian Slade on January 12, 2018.
The flu bug is picking up steam in southern Alberta.
The number of people hospitalized with influenza has more than doubled in the past few weeks, according to numbers released Thursday by Alberta Health Services.
Just before Christmas, 47 people had been hospitalized in the south zone and now that number stands at 113, says AHS.
Across the province, 1,570 have been hospitalized with influenza and the death toll has gone from 19 on Dec. 22-31 in the latest statistics. In the south zone the number of deaths has not increased and remains at two.
“We are always concerned about influenza, it can make people very ill,” said Dr. Lizette Elumir, medical officer of health, AHS south zone.
Medicine Hat Regional Hospital has been managing well, said Elumir.
If it is likely that someone has the flu, precautions are taken when they are admitted to hospital to prevent the spread of the illness. On average it takes about a day to receive a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis.
Across the province the number of lab-confirmed cases of influenza A and B increased from 3,355 to 5,767 in the past three weeks.
In the south zone, the number of lab-confirmed cases of influenza B has increased sharply from 56 to 104 between Dec. 22 and Jan. 11. There are now 321 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A compared to 197 in data released Dec. 22, 2017.
Some people have influenza symptoms that can be managed at home while the severity of symptoms in the respiratory tract is typically what would require hospitalization, said Elumir. The most vulnerable are those with other medical issues.
If you are not sure whether you need to seek medical help or simply stay home until you are better, Elumir says that is where Health Link can help.
“They ask the appropriate questions that gives them a sense of the risk and a sense of the urgency,” said Elumir.
There is one more flu immunization clinic planned for Medicine Hat at Higdon Hall on the Stampede Grounds: Jan. 15, 2-6 p.m.
All Albertans aged six months and older are eligible to receive influenza immunization free of charge.
More than 1,167,858 Albertans have taken the precaution of getting the flu vaccine, and 87,470 of those are in the south zone. The vaccine contains four strains of influenza virus including influenza A Michigan, influenza A Hong Kong, influenza B Brisbane and influenza B Phuket.
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