By Jessica Corriveau
Flu season has barely started this year, but already the numbers are low.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says “The percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive has just recently reached 10%, which is much later than other years. For comparison, in 2009, this number exceeded 40%.”
Whether it’s due to the mild winter, or how effective the flu vaccine was this year, it’s good news.
We aren’t out of the woods yet, however.
In week nine of the flu season, according to the PHAC, the numbers have picked up. FluWatch, part of PHAC, is reporting an increase in positive influenza B detections compared to last week, the majority of which were from Ontario and Quebec. Ontario has reported some surveillance regions with localized activity, and some regions with sporadic activity.
FluWatch helps monitor the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses throughout the season. Its goal is to detect outbreaks, share information relating to the spread of the flu, and check how well vaccines and antiviral medications are doing against certain strains, such as H1N1. All of this information factors in to which vaccine will be used the following year.
The flu vaccine is decided ahead of time, with three strands chosen as those the makers decide to target. This year, they seem to have a good match, with circulating viruses stable for the past two seasons.
“I have had less students coming in this year with the flu,” said Lauren Deans, the college nurse. “There has been flu out in the community, but not like the numbers we’ve seen in past years. Hopefully it’s due to a combination of the flu shot and taking care of themselves.”
Deans reminds students to take care and wash their hands, cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing, and to stay home when sick.