New Brunswick

Too early to predict flu season - 19 cases recorded so far

According to a report set to be published by the Department of Health on Thursday there have been 19 cases of influenza confirmed in the province.

Flu numbers still low in NB, but not indicative of this year's virus reach

So far there have been 19 cases of lab confirmed influenza in the province, and just two hospitalisations due to the virus. But officials warn that today's low numbers are not a good indicator of the season to come. (CBC)

According to a report set to be published by the Department of Health on Thursday, there have been 19 cases of influenza confirmed in the province. 

Prior to Christmas, there were just five lab confirmed cases in the province.  

The weekly New Brunswick Influenza Report for Dec. 17 stated those numbers were "lower than the expected levels for this time of year." 

"It's still too early to tell what kind of season we'll have," said Shelley Landsburg, director of communicable diseases with the Department of Health.

Last year the department concluded the spread of influenza began later than usual and that could be the case again for this year.

So far there have been two cases where the flu virus has resulted in people going to hospital, but neither case had patients in intensive care. 

There have been no reported deaths due to the virus so far this season. 

"I guess sometimes it might be interpreted as low, the activity is low," said Landsburg. 

"It's not that it's really lower than normal, it's always somewhat low around this time before we get into the winter months." 

Landsburg cautions that it is still early in the flu season and that it's still too early to tell if it will be a light year for the virus in the province.   

Years prior 

According to the department, last year New Brunswick recorded 1,200 cases of influenza confirmed in laboratories. Of those cases 250 people were hospitalized, 56 of which were admitted to intensive care and 20 deaths were associated with the virus. 

The year prior the province recorded 1,400 cases of lab confirmed influenza with 407 hospitalizations, 40 patients were admitted to intensive care and the flu is associated with 26 deaths. 

Strong vaccine 

This year Landsburg is pleased by the fact this year's flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the strains of influenza impacting New Brunswickers and Canadians in general. 

"Last year we had a bit of a mismatch in the vaccine...but to date the flu strain that is circulating in Canada is a match for our vaccine," said Landsburg 

"And we have a couple of B-Type influenza cases, but that is also in the vaccine...so that's a good thing"

Landsburg said the department has distributed most of their flu vaccines already.

"Which is over 260,000 doses of the vaccine for the publicly funded program. And that is pretty much in line with what we saw over the last couple of years," said Landsburg. 

"But it is not too late to get your flu shot for this year."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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