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'Atypical' flu season causing outbreaks at care homes

Last Updated Jan 12, 2018 at 3:44 pm PST

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Summary

Dr. Perry Kendall says people young and old are affected by the flu season, as it's a mixture of types A and B

Early appearance of Influenza B is creating problems in BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The word “atypical” is being used to describe this year’s flu season.

Influenza B has shown up early, with hospitals already dealing with the “A” type, which is more common at this time of year.

And it seems some care homes are having a rough time as a result.

Last month, 29 care homes and four acute care hospitals dealt with outbreaks, according to provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

“The difference between the two [types] is that Influenza A — particularly H3N2 — which has been predominating in recent years, tends to affect older people. Influenza B typically affects younger people,” explains Kendall.

“This year, we’ve seen a mixture of A and B, so both young and old people being affected. And we’ve also seen Influenza B hitting older people in long term care facility outbreaks, as well.”

It’s the early appearance of Influenza B that’s creating problems, as it doesn’t usually show up until February or March.

“Of course, normally you wouldn’t see Influenza B until later on in the season and we’ve seen a lot of Influenza B — as much as Influenza A, basically,” says Kendall.

In fact, we’ve heard of one care home dealing with a triple outbreak right now — both types of flu, plus a gastrointestinal bug.

Kendall says if you’re visiting loved ones in care homes this time of year, make sure to wash your hands, and delay your visit if you’re sick.

Still, there have been worse flu seasons in the past.

Kendall points out when things get really bad, hospitals start cancelling elective surgeries — something that hasn’t been happening at this point.