FREDERICTON, N.B. – An update to the number of seasonal influenza cases in New Brunswick shows that the predominant strain is Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, but compared to this time last year, the overall number of cases is similar.
“H1N1 is a strain of influenza that can cause serious illness in vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer of health. “The best way for us to protect these individuals is to encourage them and their household contacts to be immunized.”
The new monitoring system implemented this week is providing the Public Health Branch with more details about seasonal influenza and its impact on the health-care system.
So far this season, there have been more than 300 confirmed cases of seasonal influenza. Fifty-one hospitalizations have been reported through the new monitoring system, with 15 of these patients admitted to intensive care units. Most of those hospitalized have been discharged. Four New Brunswickers have died due to illness associated with influenza.
Cleary expressed her condolences to the friends and families of these patients.
“The flu is often seen as a minor illness but it should not be underestimated,” she said. “It is important to remember that there are flu-related hospitalizations and deaths every flu season. Seasonal influenza can be very serious for the elderly, people with other illnesses (such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes), pregnant women and small children.”
The Department of Health provides publicly funded influenza vaccine for individuals at high risk of influenza complications as well as those who could transmit the virus to them. Publicly-funded influenza vaccine is still available to eligible groups by many different immunization providers through a variety of programs. More information is available online or from health-care providers.