H1N1 cases on the downswing

Despite mild temperatures, the H1N1 flu continues to hover around although it appears to be on the decline.

Despite mild temperatures, the H1N1 flu continues to hover around the area although it appears to be on the decline.There have been nine laboratory-confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in the Kootenay region, according to Interior Health (IH).Recent cases have shown a shift towards people aged 20 to 69, rather than the typical very young and elderly, who are usually most at risk.There have been severe cases involving healthy, younger people and two deaths have been confirmed in B.C., one in the Okanagan and one on Vancouver Island.“H1N1 has been the predominant strain and has made up the majority of those people we’ve tested,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, medical health officer, Interior Health. “What’s nice is that it appears to be on the downswing. Our influenza H1N1 has peaked for this year. Our interest now is in preventing further cases and prevent a second wave of infections for those who have not been immunized.”Corneil said that if people are feeling symptoms of influenza such as cough, body aches, fever they should certainly see their family doctor first.“We also encourage people to call 8-1-1, the nursing healthline, to see if treatment is warranted,” he said.Corneil said IH can provide people with anti-retroviral treatment, which will slow down the symptoms, decrease the length of the disease, and decrease transmission to other people.“We’re quite lucky in this year that people have been very interested in the flu and have used up all the immunization doses we’ve ordered including the extra five per cent each province has in stock,” said Corneil. “We have ordered additional vaccines and those are being distributed across the health authority region. The best place to call is your local health unit to see if there are still some available.”Corneil said the H1N1 strain is included in this year’s flu shot and was expected.  “What’s different about this year is that there’s been a number of younger people who have been sick and ill and in some cases died from the influenza directly,” he said. “That has increased interested in the influenza virus. But it’s certainly not a year that is any different than was expected.”

Grand Forks Gazette