ED­I­TO­RIAL Flu sea­son hits hard

Times Colonist - - Comment -

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.

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