Confirmed flu cases at 113 and rising in Ottawa

The flu season is hitting Ottawa hard with at least 113 confirmed cases since September, and the numbers are expected to keep rising.

By this time in 2016 there were 60 confirmed flu cases and peak season was reached at end of December

With more than 100 confirmed cases of influenza so far this season, Ottawa Public Health is recommending people get their flu shots. (CBC)

Ottawa is still in the grips of the flu season with more than 100 confirmed cases, and the number is expected to rise in the coming weeks. 

According to Ottawa Public Health, there are already 113 confirmed influenza cases recorded since September and that number doesn't represent the extent of the illness. 

"We expect that there are many more cases out there because only a small number of people go to their doctor and get tested for the flu. The number of cases are still rising because we haven't seen that peak yet," said Dr. Geneviève Cadieux, an associate medical officer of health with OPH. 

The peak season is the time when OPH sees the most new flu cases in any given week, said Cadieux, but they only know when they've hit the peak season once the number of flu cases starts to decrease. 

This time last year there were 60 confirmed flu cases and peak season was reached at the end of December. 

Typically the peak season in Ottawa is at the end of December or early January. 

Hospitals and clinics are often hit hard during the flu season. OPH no longer collects data on flu hospitalization in Ottawa, however Cadieux said they have been in contact with local hospitals and clinics who say they have been seeing an increase in visits from people suffering with respiratory illnesses like colds and the flu. 

Elderly and young children most susceptible

People who are most likely to be affected by the flu are seniors and young children. So far, people over the age of 65 make up close to 60 per cent of the total flu cases recorded in Ottawa. 

This year's flu season could also be more serious for children because they are seeing an increase in cases of Type B influenza, which is known to affect children. 

"We are seeing more influenza B activity much earlier than usual … so already we are seeing a lot of flu B in December when we normally see it in February and flu B tends to affect kids more," said Cadieux. 
Dr. Geneviève Cadieux of Ottawa Public Health says she's seeing more cases of Type B influenza so far this year. It usually hits late winter and mostly affects young children. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

Children under the age of five are more susceptible to severe illness because of the flu as well as people who are pregnant, or those who suffer from diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. 

According to Cadieux, the best defence against the illness is the flu shot and that it's easy to get in Ottawa, with over 300 doctor's offices and 200 pharmacies that can administer it for free.

In addition, she said people should refrain from going to work or school if they are sick, sneeze or cough into their sleeve, use hand sanitizer and wash their hands frequently. 

Tonight, OPH is holding a drop-in flu clinic at 100 Constellation Dr. in Nepean. It's specifically for families with young children under the age of five who can't get their flu shots in pharmacies.

It will be held between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.