Sunday, September 21, 2014

’Flu season surging

TORONTO—’Flu activity seems to be surging just in time for the holidays in several parts of the country.
Health officials warned yesterday that transmission of the nasty virus is picking up steam.

They urged people to take precautions against catching and passing along the illness, including getting a ’flu shot.
“We are seeing a lot of influenza in the hospital. And anecdotally, a lot of people that I work with or people who work with them have been calling in sick in the last couple of weeks,” noted Dr. Michael Gardam, head of infection control at Toronto’s University Health Network.
The season is off to its earliest start in several years and is a stark reminder of the unpredictability of the influenza virus.
Last year’s ’flu season started so late—and was so mild, in relative terms—that for most of the season it seemed like the winter that ’flu forgot.
The timing of influenza’s peak doesn’t indicate how hard or moderate a ’flu season this might be. But with so much illness happening around the holidays, the opportunities for people to pick up a ’flu infection are pretty much ideal, experts say.
“We have long recognized that the holiday period is a chance for greater social mixing,” said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver.
“We sometimes refer to influenza as the original Grinch who stole Christmas because it can transmit more when there are people gathering in large numbers indoors.”

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