Influenza has taken a toll across B.C. but Nelson and area has escaped relatively unscathed so far this winter, Interior Health statistics show.
The lone local outbreak so far this flu season, at Nelson Jubilee Manor, lasted for three days and ended on December 15. A spokesman for Interior Health East, said three residents were affected by a respiratory outbreak at the facility. All three patients recovered and no staff were affected.
The only other outbreak in the Kootenay Boundary region of the Interior Health Authority was at Talarico Place in Castlegar and that ended Dec. 21.
Other centres in the Interior Health region have been hit hard.
As of Friday, 11 facilities were listed by Interior Health as sites where outbreaks of the contagious illness have been declared. Two are in Kelowna, two in Vernon, two in Penticton, three in Kamloops, and one each in Golden, Williams Lake and Oliver.
Four residents at these facilities have died related to influenza, although for privacy reasons Interior Health is not releasing where the deaths occurred. IH states the fatalities occurred between Sept. 1, 2017 and Jan. 2, 2018, but will not say the deaths are confirmed to be due to the flu, but “are deaths that occurred among residents during an influenza outbreak.”
Last year there were a total of 37 deaths in residential care facilities related to influenza in the Interior Health region.
As part of its stated policy, IH asks people going to sites where outbreaks have been identified to postpone their visits to a later date.
The elderly, frail, or those with complex or chronic diseases are at the highest risk from influenza infections and IH says the best ways to prevent the flu include washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, covering your cough and sneeze, and getting immunized.
Flu season has also hit hard in the Fraser Health region with an outbreak declared at 20 residential care facilities in the lower mainland and Fraser Valley area. Vancouver Coastal reported five outbreaks as of Friday while there were outbreak reported at four care facilities on Vancouver Island.
As the flu season continues, Interior Health is urging everyone to make sure they’re personally protected.
“Get a flu (influenza) shot. It’s not too late to be immunized,” states the IH website. “December is considered the start of flu season, which lasts through until at least April, so there is plenty of time to benefit from immunization.”
Flu shots are available free of charge at local pharmacies or at the Nelson Health Unit.