As peak flu season arrives, Canadian hospitals seeing higher than usual pediatric cases
2020-01-13 from theglobeandmail.com
An influenza strain that hits children hard is circulating widely in Canada, leading to increased pediatric hospitalizations, which experts say could worsen as we approach the peak of flu season.
Infectious disease experts say a type of influenza B is circulating at about the same rate as influenza A, which is not typical. In most years, influenza B doesn’t circulate until late in the season. This has experts on alert because this type of influenza is linked to a higher risk of hospitalizations and deaths among children.
The Public Health Agency of Canada’s most recent FluWatch report, released Friday, says the increased presence of influenza B likely explains why pediatric illnesses and hospitalizations are higher this year. According to PHAC, the number of pediatric hospitalizations linked to influenza A this season is similar to previous years.
From Dec. 15 to Jan. 4, there were 258 pediatric hospitalizations linked to the flu reported by a national surveillance network that consists of 12 pediatric hospitals. PHAC said the number of cases is above the average seen in the previous five years.
Over all, there have been 370 pediatric hospitalizations linked to the flu in Canada so far this season. Of those, 54 per cent were tied to influenza B. About two-thirds of hospitalizations were in children under five years old. No flu-related deaths have been reported in children this season.
The particular type of influenza B that is circulating belongs to a family called the Victoria lineage, which is known to cause a higher rate of hospitalizations and deaths among children.
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