31 Winnipeg nursing homes hit hard by flu
Province’s chief public health officer says too early to tell how effective flu shot program has been
Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province’s care homes are being hit hard by the flu this season.
Doctor Michael Rutledge said nursing homes have been hit particularly hard in recent days, and health care providers are seeing many cases of the H3N2 flu.
“It's been busy. In the last couple of weeks, we've had many reports of outbreaks in personal care homes and that's what we would expect with this H3N2,” said Rutledge. “If anything, it tends to target the elderly, maybe a little more than the H1N1 would last year or in other years.”
Thirty-one of Winnipeg’s 39 long-term care facilities have been hit by outbreaks of a flu-like illness, according to officials with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA).
“What we would typically see is about a third of this activity, so it is really busy,” said Gina Trinidad with the WRHA.
While a few of the affected care homes are no longer experiencing outbreaks, 25 homes are still dealing with a high number of residents with influenza.
“They are [some] of the most frail, elderly in the system,” said Trinidad. “And certainly when they're hit with the flu, they are hit very hard.”
So far, WRHA officials said they are not prohibiting people from visiting their loved ones in personal care homes, but visitors can help by:
- Postponing their visit to prevent further spread
- Not visiting if they feel unwell themselves
- Get instructions on proper hand-washing and hygiene before visiting
- Getting a flu shot
Rutledge said it’s too early to tell how Manitoba’s flu shot program is working, but he expects it might be less effective than previous years.
“We've heard the reports a couple of weeks ago that facilities in Winnipeg are very busy, but we've been hearing that across Manitoba, particularly southern Manitoba, I would say, maybe a bit more than in the north,” he said. “But we've had reports of flu activity from right across the province.”
Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Elise Weiss said usually influenza activity peaks around January.
“Generally, that will take a two-to-four week period and then it will just go to normal activity,” said Weiss. “Very often we may see a smaller peak in late winter.”
Rutledge said if you have symptoms of the flu and are otherwise healthy, you can likely stay home, but, if you feel really ill, he said it’s best to call the province’s health links number or see a doctor.