EDITORIAL Flu season hits hard
That coughing and sputtering you hear at work and at home is flu season in full swing. It’s hitting kids and middle-aged adults hard this year. So wash your hands, get the flu shot and do your best not to spread the bug around.
As in other parts of Canada, the Island is mainly seeing the H1N1 virus this year. Unlike the H3N2 strain, which takes a deadly toll on seniors, H1N1 attacks younger people, whose immune systems often haven’t seen it before.
As of Wednesday, 52 cases of H1N1 in children 18 and younger had been reported by Island Health. That’s about one-quarter of the 197 lab-confirmed cases.
Although there haven’t been any deaths on the Island, some children ended up in intensive care. Saskatchewan has seen six flu-related deaths since September, including three unvaccinated preschoolers.
This virus is related to the swine flu that created a pandemic in 2008. Since then, doctors have come to know it well, so this year’s flu vaccine is a good match.
Australia has already been through its flu season, and figures so far suggest that people who got vaccinated were 68 per cent less likely to seek medical attention for the flu than those who weren’t vaccinated.
Those are pretty good odds, not only for protecting yourself, but for reducing the spread of the disease to others, including children and people with compromised immune systems.
The flu is a fact of life every winter. But we are not helpless. Some simple precautions can improve our chances of staying healthy.