Thunder Bay flu cases started earlier than the rest of Ontario

The death rate from the flu in the Thunder Bay district surpasses the rate in larger population centres around Ontario.

The death rate from the flu in the Thunder Bay district surpasses the rate in larger population centres around Ontario.  

So far, five people have died, compared with seven in Toronto.

London and Ottawa report two deaths each.

But health officials said there are explanations for Thunder Bay's disproportionately high rate.

Thunder Bay’s medical officer of health said the timing of flu outbreaks in different areas is one factor.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams says the Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay is quick to inform the local health unit about flu-related deaths. (Supplied)

"We were noted by the province that we're having widespread transmission [about] two to three weeks before Christmas,” Dr. David Williams said.

“The rest of the province was very quiet, and they didn't start to have activity until between Christmas and New Year's."

Williams said the Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay is also quick to inform the local health unit about flu-related deaths.

In other centres the information may take longer to be passed along, as other reporting methods are used in different cities.

Thunder Bay’s relatively small hospital means any flu case updates can be sent to the health unit quickly.

The health unit is still suggesting the public gets their flu shot from either their health care provider, pharmacy or immunization clinics.

"I'm disappointed that we do have five [flu-related deaths],” Williams said.

“These are people under the age of 65, for the most part. One isn't. Of any one that we can prevent from vaccination, I wish we could have."

People can obtain a vaccination at the health unit on Wednesdays from 1-6 p.m.

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