Influenza cases expected to increase significantly in Saskatchewan

This year’s influenza season is hitting just in time for the holiday season according to the ministry of health.

There have been 183 confirmed cases since September first, but that number is expected to increase significantly over the next few weeks, as 64 cases were confirmed last week alone.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said if you are sick and have family or friends in long-term care, you are advised to not visit them for their protection.

“Even if you are other wise well and you’re visiting, do follow the instructions that are there in the long-term care facilities,” Shahab said. “For example, if they say ‘sanitize your hands,’ please do that, if there’s an outbreak going on, only visit one person and not everyone, because some people do like to visit others as well, please comply with those instructions.”

Shahab said each year is different when it comes to influenza, with last year being an H1N1 year.

“This year so far, it’s really different in that it’s a mainly H3N2 season for the ‘A’ strain, and then usually we see ‘B’ strains going later in the year, like in February or March, but this year we’re seeing ‘B’ strains going around at the same time as ‘A’ strains.”

Shahab said people can still get the flu shot into January.

“We also have to remember that infants under six months can’t get the flu vaccine, so obviously infants turning six months from now until the end of March should get the vaccine as they become six months of age,” Shahab said. “That’s really important throughout the flu season.”

Just one influenza case was admitted to the ICU so far this flu season. However, there have been five outbreaks in long-term care facilities this year.

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