Alberta flu season winds down with far fewer cases and deaths than last year
'This season was more mild than last season's flu'
As the 2018-19 flu season draws to a close, figures show there have been 5,305 cases of influenza A, substantially fewer than last year, according to Alberta Health Services.
During the 2017-18 flu season, there were 9,069 confirmed cases provincewide, including 3,047 people sent to hospital and 92 deaths.
The number of Albertans known to have died from the flu this year is at 28, up from 20 about one month ago. There have been nine deaths in Calgary, seven in Edmonton, nine in the central zone, two in the north and one in the south.
AHS says 1,216 patients in the province have been admitted to hospital with the flu, including 505 in Calgary and 323 in the Edmonton zone.
There have been 65 lab-confirmed cases of the less prevalent B-strain of the flu, AHS says.
Calgary's medical officer of health, Dr. Jia Hu, says cases have been dropping since the flu season peaked in mid-November.
He says the flu took a much less severe toll on Albertans than it did the last time around.
"This season was more mild than last season's flu, probably," he said.
"For one main reason and that is it was a predominantly H1 season, whereas last season it was an H3 season and the H3 tends to be broadly more severe to a larger segment of the population."
Hu also said the vaccine was a much better match this year.
"This year's vaccine was 72 per cent effective against the predominant H1 strain and 68 per cent effective against all types of influenza, which means it was a really good match, actually, which we're really happy about."
The number of people getting their flu shot this year also appears to be up slightly over previous years, Hu said.
Even still, Hu says it's hovering only around 30 per cent of the population — a number he says is far too low.
- An earlier version of this story's headline incorrectly said there have been 5,305 cases of influenza in Calgary. In fact, that is the province-wide figure.Feb 22, 2019 12:46 PM MT