Five people have died so far this flu season in the Edmonton zone.
According to the latest numbers released by Alberta Health Services, there have 925 cases of the flu so far this season.
Chris Sikora, medical officer for AHS in the Edmonton zone, said in his opinion, it's been a milder flu season compared to last year.
“It doesn’t seem to be as severe,” he noted. “Overall, we have been seeing fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths.”
In the Edmonton zone, so far there have been 922 cases of Influenza type A and three cases of Influenza type B. While type A has consistently been more prevalent, Sikora said he’s expecting more cases of type B to emerge as the season continues.
“We typically do see emergence of a B strain later in the season, and we maintain surveillance and we maintain sort of a careful eye on what that looks like,” he explained.
“Usually B is less severe than the Influenza A strains, but still does cause a great deal of illness in our communities.”
Last year’s flu season had 1,489 cases of Influenza type A in the Edmonton zone and 820 cases of type B. The year prior saw 1,089 cases of type A and 180 type B.
Sikora said so far this season, which runs until June, the flu vaccination appears to be a better match to the flu virus than it was last year.
“In a good match year, that vaccine that we provide and that people develop an immunity towards is a good match for what virus happens to be circulating in a community,” he said.
Across Alberta, there have been 1,068 flu-related hospitalizations. Of that number, 279 people have been admitted in the Edmonton zone.
Calgary has had the highest flu rates, with 4,925 cases of Influenza type A and 33 cases of Influenza type B.
To help reduce the risk of catching the virus, Sikora recommends getting the vaccine. If you have the flu, he said, it’s better to stay at home and not risk infecting others. Coughing into your sleeve and exercising proper hand washing etiquette also reduces the risk of spreading the flu.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends anyone older than six months old, and who does not have a contraindication (a specific situation where the shot might be harmful) to the flu shot, receive a vaccine.
So far this season, there have been 412,866 doses of vaccines administered in the Edmonton zone. In Calgary, 1.2 million shots have been administered.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, aching muscles, headache, fatigue, chills and a sore throat.
For more information about the flu, visit: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/influenza/influenza.aspx.