February flu spike in Waterloo region

Region of Waterloo Public Health says a big spike in influenza cases -140 confirmed cases of the flu in February - brings the season total to 170.

Flu shot bullseye: inoculation matched the virus strains circulating in Waterloo Region

The number of flu cases this winter jumped from 30 to 170 in February, a public health official says. (Tony Talbot/AP)
Waterloo Region saw a massive spike in the number of flu cases in February, a public health official says.

"We've had, to date, about 170 cases. And in February about 140 of those happened in Waterloo Region," David Aoki, manager of infectious diseases, sexual and dental health with Region of Waterloo Public Health, told CBC News Monday.

"We've seen quite a big upswing." 

Up until then, it was a quiet flu season with few reports and no outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes.

That was largely due to the fact that the flu shot closely matches the virus strains that are circulating, Aoki said.

The H1N1 strain of the flu, which caused a pandemic in 2009, has been making the rounds this winter, but people are better prepared for it now, he said.

"The vaccine, since 2009, has always had H1N1 in it. So this year, because that same strain is in the vaccine this year, we're seeing a very good match to the vaccine," Aoki said.

Most cases of influenza are H1N1

​A report to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said as of Feb. 20, they have had only 48 confirmed cases of the flu. The majority of lab-confirmed influenza cases there have been identified as the H1N1 strain.

H1N1 can be particularly hard on elderly patients, but so far this year, there haven't been any outbreaks at institutions, the report said.

Aoki said the same is true at nursing homes and hospitals in Waterloo region.

But while seniors have been exposed to H1N1 several times in their lives, he warned it can hit elderly patients very severely.

Peak may have passed

Aoki said with the spike in Feburary, it is unclear if the region has passed peak flu season or if there is more to come.

"We're either right at the peak or just coming down on the downside, so it might be getting better," he said. "It's a little too soon to say the peak is over, but we're starting to some signs that it might be decreasing."

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