Emergency rooms filling up with flu patients
Emergency rooms across New Brunswick are seeing growing numbers of patients complaining of influenza-like symptoms and more people are being vaccinated against the virus.
High rates of flu cases are being reported in Canada and the United States so far this year.
Health Canada reports there were around 3,500 cases of influenza in the country as of Dec. 15 compared to 182 cases by the same time in 2011.
The Vitalité Health Network said the emergency departments at its New Brunswick hospitals are noticing more patients and the number of flu cases is increasing.
Alberta Health Services announced this week an unusually high number of people are showing up in Calgary and Edmonton emergency rooms with the flu and norovirus.
The number of flu cases in the United States is also on the rise. The mayor of Boston declared a public health emergency on Wednesday because of the number of flu cases in the city.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has also noted the number of Americans visiting their doctors with flu-like symptoms has grown for the fourth week in a row.
Dr. Michael Simon, a Saint John physician, said the number of flu cases in the United States has more people in New Brunswick pulling up their sleeve for the flu shot.
"We are getting a little concerned because in some cases, in certain parts of the [United] States, they're seeing a 10-fold increase in the prevalence of influenza," he said.
"So if that's going to creep north, obviously the numbers here will reflect the same, and we'll see a lot more serious cases."
Simon said people are now becoming more aware with the importance of getting vaccinated for the flu.
The New Brunswick government offers the flu shot free to people most at risk, including people over 65, and adults and children with chronic conditions.
John Staples, a pharmacist, has been advising cold and flu sufferers for decades. Each day, people come into his pharmacy looking for avoiding the virus or relief from the flu.
"There's nothing out there that's 100 per cent and if you're working in an environment where everybody's coughing and sneezing all over the place, they might not have enough commonsense to cover their mouth, you have a high risk of getting it," he said.
Staples said he often recommends a combination of herbal and homeopathic medicine when fighting the flu.