Sunday, October 19, 2014

FLU Season 2014/15 - Canadian Fluwatch has begun!

With all the attention on Ebola, and zero cases in Canada, we should turn our attention to those more common viruses, like the flu.

There are a lot of infectious diseases that deserve as much attention as Ebola.

Flu has hospitalized many (22,492 Canadians), and killed 1333 since 2009. These are only those cases which were tested and confirmed.

Enterovirus D-68  has begun to increase, for example.
On October 16, 2014 the British Columbia Centre for Disease ControlExternal link confirmed that a young man who died earlier this week had EV-D68. The patient had a history of severe asthma and was in the hospital when he developed respiratory failure.

The barrier to education and good practices is that it isn't mandatory for the provinces and territories for reporting of all of the viruses to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML).

As of October 6, 2014, a total of 75 specimens tested positive for EV-D68 at the NML, with specimen collection dates between August and September 2014, and were received from several provinces across Canada. One person has died.

What did we learn from SARS?

After SARS, the more expensive protective gloves were replaced with the previous, lesser quality ones, I heard in a CBC radio interview with an ER nurse.
We have learned about the efficacy of hand washing. Patients are learning to demand this from their healthcare workers.

Infectious Diseases - Public Health Agency of Canada

They manage reports by weeks, and flu season has started! This, of course, only includes those who have had tests confirmed for influenza. Many of us are home sick (I hope) rather than out at work.

 Figure 3. Number of positive laboratory tests for other respiratory viruses by report week, Canada, 2014-15
Week 40 tests positive

Chart Key
What do you think? I think Ebola is getting far more attention than it deserves. 

Look at the cases in long-term care, vs. hospital.
  • In week 39, five influenza outbreaks were reported in long-term care facilities
  • Two outbreaks of influenza-like illness in schools.
  • One outbreak of A(H3N2) in another facility were also reported in the same week. No new outbreaks were reported in week 40.
With all the attention on Ebola, and zero cases in Canada, we should turn our attention to those viruses, like the flu.

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