Flu hits Yukon early and hard, with more than 70 cases so far

Eight people have required hospitalization as of Nov. 21, more than the average number of Yukon flu hospitalizations for an entire 52-week flu season.

Health officials urge Yukoners to get flu shots as H3N2 strain sends 8 people to hospital

Dr. Catherine Elliott, Yukon's Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, says getting a flu shot helps prevent or reduce the severity of the flu and protects those around you who are vulnerable to the flu. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Flu season has arrived with a vengeance in Yukon, with more than 70 confirmed cases as of Nov. 24.

Yukon normally averages five cases of confirmed influenza by Dec. 1, according to Dr. Catherine Elliott, the territory's Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Of the confirmed cases, 86 per cent have been in Whitehorse. Cases in three rural communities have made up the remaining 14 per cent.

This surge of flu cases in Yukon is unusual, says Elliott. Most provinces and territories are reporting routine flu activity or no flu activity.

Elliott says H3N2 is the strain of influenza being identified in the lab. It typically causes more severe illness.

Eight people have required hospitalization as of Nov. 21. Yukon normally sees an average of seven flu hospitalizations over the entire 52-week flu season.

She is urging Yukoners to get flu shots as this year's vaccine protects against H3N2.

If you think you have the flu, and you don't have any chronic conditions or risk factors for complications, Elliott advises staying home, and staying away from "people who might be vulnerable, like the elderly, the very young, people who are pregnant."

"But if you are in one of those vulnerable categories, then you should seek medical care as soon as possible."

She also recommends washing your hands often and practising good coughing etiquette to keep viruses from spreading.