Children and adults in middle age have a rough ride with the H1N1 influenza virus this year, according to public health officials.
"This year we definitely see the H1N1 virus in both adults and children," said Dr. Dee Hoyano, a medical doctor with island health. "And H1N1 has a tendency to affect middle-aged adults more than other forms of influenza."
Elderly adults are infected with influenza, and this year Health's health is seen by several middle-aged adults who go to a hospital with it.
Typically, relatively healthy adult adults should not get into the hospital due to influenza, said Hoyano.
The island's health also addressed serious pediatric cases of influenza, she said. Since Wednesday, 52 H1N1 cases have been reported in children 18 years and younger – approximately one quarter out of 197 confirmed laboratory cases.
"Children get flu, and those who get it can see more because they are more seriously ill than last year," said Hoyano.
The doctor was not aware of the death, but said that some children were treated in an intensive care unit.
Most cases of influenza on Vancouver Island were H1N1 strains, Hoyano said. There are also some cases of influenza H3N2, which is particularly difficult for older adults.
"We often notice more than one strain of flu throughout the entire winter season," she said. "We begin with one and gradually, when we arrive in the new year, we often notice that it takes on a different strain. But for the top we had in December and January, H1N1 was. "
H1N1 is in a similar category as a virus that caused a swine flu pandemic 10 years ago. However, health authorities are not as worried as they were then.
A 2008 swine flu pandemic is an entirely new flu virus, Hoyano said.
"Because it's been 10 years old, it has become one of our regular flu viruses," she said.
"What we saw last year or a year earlier is not very different.
"I'm always worried about general flu, but this is not something drastically different or unpredictable than a pandemic flu."
Every year, the virus changes slightly. Therefore, people can get an influenza every year and therefore the vaccine changes every year, said Hoyano.
"We are basically trying to track the latest, most common virus."
During the H3N2 season, the average age of hospitalized patients is close to 80. The average year is 60 years, Hoyano said.
H3N2 strains older people because they are already vulnerable.
"They can become pretty sick and can die of complications," said Hoyano.
It is important that people with primary health problems, in particular lung disease or heart disease or low immune system, are aware that the flu can be poor – and that it can happen very badly quickly, she said.
To prevent disease, hand washing is extremely important.
"The other thing that we are seeing now is the norovirus winter vomiting," said Hoyano. "And strong hand washing helps to prevent."
Norovirus is very easily transmitted by touch.
"The most common route is someone who has somewhere vomiting or diarrhea and you touch it and eat something," said Hoyano.
"A tiny drop on the wall will spread the virus."
A healthcare professional said he was aware that people were more difficult and more difficult to stay at home when they were sick, but stressed that it was important for people to give themselves time to recover.
"Maybe it's like a new year's resolution: make sure you're productive and contributing first."
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