Flu bug hits Fraser region hard

Ten care homes now dealing with influenza outbreaks – as many as all reported in previous flu season

Dr. Michelle Murti is a medical health officer for Fraser Health.

Fraser Health has lab-confirmed flu outbreaks in progress at 10 different long-term care facilities following a spike in influenza activity over the holiday season.

Medical health officer Dr. Michelle Murti said it’s remarkable to have 10 care home outbreaks active simultaneously as that’s as many as Fraser recorded in the entire flu season last year.

“It’s quite a heavy year,” she said Monday, noting there have also been eight earlier facility outbreaks that have since cleared up.

Flu season started early with residential outbreaks beginning in late September and early October.

The bugs circulating had plenty of opportunity to find new victims as families and friends gathered over the holidays.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Jan. 2 reported a “sharp increase” in influenza-like illness reports in the final two weeks of December.

“With school back on we’ll now see more transmission in the community as well,” Murti said.

The vaccine provided this flu season isn’t considered as effective as in past years because of some drift in the genetic makeup of the H3N2 flu virus that’s been dominant.

But Murti said many care home residents are reporting relatively mild symptoms and some have been surprised to learn they have the flu at all.

She said the less severe illness may stem from the partial protective effect of the vaccine against H3N2, or from residents’ built-up resistance from exposure to similar viruses in past years.

Meanwhile, B.C. has recorded a third death linked to enterovirus D68 infection.

The latest case is of a child who actually died in November but the B.C. Centre for Disease Control did not receive confirmation until last week.

There have been 220 enterovirus D68 cases detected in the province since mid-August. Of those, 140 required hospitalization and another five resulted in neurological illness associated with the virus.

Murti said enteroviruses are more prevalent in the summer and fall, and – as expected – their activity has waned with the onset of winter.

She offers the usual advice on avoiding flu and cold – washing hands often, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you feel ill.

“Especially if you are having respiratory symptoms you should not be that work hero going to work or school. It’s important to stay home so you’re not transmitting that to other people.”

Current outbreaks at residential care homes in Fraser Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Cat owners in Chilliwack celebrate National Kitten Day

Chilliwack Progress readers share photos of their favourite felines on National Kitten Day

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Foodies flock to drive-thru food truck fest in Chilliwack

The Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival takes place this weekend at Chilliwack Heritage Park

UPDATE: Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Chilliwack

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Popular retired UFV therapy dog passes away

Mac the Therapy Dog consoled countless students and staff, as well as wildfire victims

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

Most Read