Dirty age is not over yet, doctor warns of infections in new year



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Calgary may be a little less frequent in the new year but a public health doctor wants you to remember that flu is not over yet.

Influential cases pointed week 11-11-17, according to Alberta Health Services. In 2017, the peak is the week from December 10-16, a full month later.

Calgary also saw around 500 more cases of influenza in mid-December compared to a year earlier. Since then, cases have declined, said Dr. Jia Hu, Alberta Health Services Medical Officer of Health for the Calgary Zone.

"It is really important that people think about the flu, even though a lot of the hub around the beginning of the flu season has come close," Hu said. "I think it's probably the best thing you can do to prevent the flu."

Early on, the Flu season was partly blamed for emergency room filling with flu-infected people, Canada's Public Health Agency said. The agency noted more children became ill than usual. Children are more sensitive than adults to influenza and respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia.

7 deaths, hundreds of hospitalized

As of Thursday, influenza has killed seven people and sent another 437 hospital in Calgary, AHS figures show. There were 1,884 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in this area, making up 40 percent of the total 4,634 cases across Alberta.

Hu didn't know how many of those who died or were hospitalized were vaccinated against the flu.

So far, most of the cases in Calgary have been from the H1 N1 strain, rather than the H3 N2 strain that was prolific last year, he said. N 1 is sometimes associated with milder symptoms, which may have led to fewer deaths and hospitalizations.

"There are a lot of things that could be going on, so the tension that's been circulating is a potential problem. Another thing is the vaccine may be much more effective this year than last year," said.

"There is a lot of random access – depending on the flu, what else they are sick of – but I'm sure I am happy to see that the number of deaths is much lower than they were last year."

Flu vaccines are not perfect but will reduce your chances of becoming ill. This year's vaccine covers four tensions of the flu waiting to be prominent. Still, most alphabets don't get vaccinated. (Matt Rourke / The Associated Press)

The 2017-18 session is considered a special bad time for the flu. Less than a third of Albertans got vaccinated, Hu, and more than 9,000 lab-confirmed cases were reported.

Previous seasons saw less cases: under 4500 cases in 2016-17 and more than 5,300 in 2015-16.

Still time vaccine

Alberta Health Services describes the vaccine as a good match and means the efficacy of the time. The agency gets statistics early in the new year, Hu said.

The vaccine of this year covers the care of influenza, so if you have caught one, the vaccine will help you fight off the other three or lower the harm of the infection, he said.

By avoiding the flu, you also protect those around you who could be more sensitive to the illness, including children, seniors and people with pre-existing illnesses, such as asthma.

The vaccine is free for anyone over the age of six months in Alberta, including non-residents. Ahs offers an online tool to look up a nearby vaccination site. You can also call 811 or visit pharmacies, go-to clinics and doctors' offices.

This year's vaccine has been described as a promising match to various viral strains by medical experts. The vaccine may not cause the flu but some may experience mild side effects such as headache or acne muscles.

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