9 flu related deaths in Waterloo region this season

There have been nine flu-related deaths in Waterloo region, according to a report by Waterloo Region Public Health & Emergency Services.

Public health report says local influenza activity is widespread

There have been nine flu related deaths in Waterloo region this flu season according to a report by public health officials. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

There have been nine influenza-related deaths in Waterloo region this season said public health officials.

"Across Waterloo Region influenza activity is currently considered widespread," said Waterloo public health officials on an influenza surveillance bulletin.

"Deaths related to influenza are not unexpected in any given flu season as influenza can cause severe illness and death in high risk populations such as the elderly, the very young and those with underlying health conditions," the report said.

As of Monday, there have been 185 total influenza cases in the region. Officials said these numbers are "expected this time of year" and consistent with the provincial average.

A particularly bad flu season across Canada has caught some hospitals off guard. Some are cancelling elective surgeries to make room for the huge number of flu patients. Some cities, like Calgary, say it’s the worst flu season on record. A particularly severe strain of influenza A, H3N2, and an early run of influenza B are making this season particularly nasty and a little unusual 3:37

Since last year's flu season there has been a 2.3 per cent increase in the distribution of influenza vaccine to local health care providers and a 20.2 per cent increase in the distribution to local pharmacies.

However, researchers have found the effectiveness of this season's flu shot to be extremely low, with the vaccine preventing only 10 to 20 per cent of infections caused by the dominant H3N2 strain.

Influenza A-type influenza viruses — H3N2 and H1N1 — have accounted for around two-thirds of all cases this season thus far, but officials said there has been an early emergence of influenza B, which is circulating at higher levels than usually expected this time of year.

According to the report, outbreak activity in long term care and retirement homes is comparable to previous seasons with 22 outbreaks thus far.