Seasonal flu hits the Prairie provinces harder than the rest of the country

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Seasonal flu is hitting the Prairie provinces harder than the rest of the country

Flu cases are on the rise in the Prairie provinces, where vaccination rates remain low.

The Prairie provinces currently have the highest rates of seasonal flu in the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The recent FluWatch report indicates that 28% of tests administered in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta between November 6 and 12 were positive.

This spike in seasonal flu cases comes as no surprise to Saskatoon family physician Adam Ogieglo.

He says that among the flu tests he ran during of the past three weeks, only one has tested negative.

Dr. Ogieglo adds that many people who go to clinics have to wait four to five hours to be tested. examined. In some cases, some have to go home without seeing a doctor, due to lack of time.

“People are struggling to access healthcare, and we are bombarded with disease.

—Adam Ogieglo, a family physician in Saskatoon

Infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, Lynora Saxinger explains that the western provinces must often deal with the seasonal flu before the rest of the country.

According to her, this is because school starts earlier in these provinces and the climate is drier there.

“As soon as the flu enters an area, it is the start of the epidemic.

— Lynora Saxinger, infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta

Dr. Saxinger adds that many people's immune systems have weakened in recent years as they have managed to avoid respiratory illnesses.

According to According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, children are most vulnerable to the flu.

In Saskatchewan, 16 people with influenza have been admitted to the hospital between October 30 and November 5, of which 4 were in intensive care.

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), the majority of people hospitalized were either people 19 years of age or younger or people aged 60 and older.

Director of the First Years Learning Center in Regina, Megan Schmidt, says flu season has dealt a bigger blow than the pandemic at her daycare.

“It seems like everyone is catching it. I don't know anyone who hasn't had the flu. »

— Megan Schmidt, Director of the First Years Learning Center

Manitoba is no exception, as emergency departments at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg received a record number of children with respiratory illnesses this fall.

Senior Manitoba public health officials hosted a telephone meeting with parents on Tuesday evening to answer questions about prevention and child care. About 100,000 people had registered for this meeting, also broadcast on the Internet.

While flu cases are on the rise in the Prairies, vaccination rates there remain low.

In Alberta, fewer than 18 % of the population has been vaccinated against influenza. The latest provincial reports show that 15% of the population in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been vaccinated against the disease.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger believes this trend is related to the fact that during the pandemic, the population has lost the habit of getting the flu shot.

Even though wearing a mask is no longer mandatory in several provinces, Dr Ogieglo encourages the public to continue to take precautions to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses.

Influenza surveillance: November 6, 2022 to November 12, 2022

With information from Yasmine Ghania and Sam Samson

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