Up to four deaths linked to flu sweeping Island region

It’s not uncommon to see an increase in the number of flu cases over the holidays, says Island Health

Up to four deaths may be linked to an outbreak of the influenza virus on Vancouver Island over the last two weeks, says Island Health.

No deaths were reported in Sooke.

“There’s been an increase of flu activity in the last couple of weeks, but I don’t know if we’ve reached the peak or it’s still going to be a few more weeks,” said Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Dee Hoyano.

Island Health said a number of flu outbreaks are occurring in long-term care facilities, particularly in the Duncan area.

It’s not uncommon to see an increase in the number of flu cases over the holidays and in the first few weeks of January, Hoyano said.

According to Island Health, the circulating virus is an influenza Type A virus called H3N2.

Influenza can be particularly harsh on the elderly, Hoyano said.

Those who died were diagnosed with having influenza, but was not necessarily the cause of death, she added.

As dire as that sounds though, Hoyano pointed out a second wave of flu is not unusual for this time of year, and that December and January are typically the busiest months.

“We are within the normal range of what we expect around this time of year,” she said.

“We see higher hospital admissions when flu activity is at its greatest in the community.”

The best measure of prevention with influenza is immunization. Flu vaccines are still available throughout the region, said Island Health.

“Because we know the [flu] activity is so widespread right now, it’s really important that people stay home when sick, lots of hand-washing, and covering one’s mouth,” Hoyano said.