H1N1 cases stay under surveillance in B.C.
British Columbia continues to monitor and respond to the spread of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus. Since Jan. 5, there have been two new severe cases of H1N1 identified in B.C. – both on Vancouver Island. No deaths have been attributed to this reporting period, and to date there are 55 laboratory-confirmed deaths in B.C. The majority of lab-confirmed cases in B.C. have been mild or moderate in severity, with the patients either having already recovered or currently recovering.
While the province continues to monitor all laboratory-confirmed cases, the weekly report now includes only severe confirmed H1N1 cases (hospitalizations and deaths). For more detailed surveillance data, visit www.bccdc.ca.
How many severe cases of the H1N1 flu virus are there in B.C.?
- Since Jan. 5, there have been two new severe cases of H1N1 identified in B.C., with no deaths.
- In total, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has confirmed 1,049 severe H1N1 cases in British Columbia since April 2009, including: 360 in Fraser Health, including 17 deaths; 234 in Interior Health, including 14 deaths; 44 in Northern Health, including two deaths; 259 in Vancouver Coastal Health, including 10 deaths; 152 on Vancouver Island, including 12 deaths;
- To date, 55 laboratory-confirmed H1N1 cases in B.C. are reported to have died. Of those, 46 cases had underlying medical conditions, while five had no underlying conditions. Four cases are still under investigation.
When and where can I get the H1N1 vaccine?
As of Friday, Nov. 20, all British Columbians are now eligible to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. Mass clinics ended on Friday, Dec. 18, but the H1N1 vaccine is still available through public health units, physicians’ offices and trained pharmacists.
British Columbians can use the Flu Clinic Locator at www.immunizebc.ca to find a public health unit or pharmacy where they can be vaccinated. People can also call their family physician or check their regional health authority’s website for more information on receiving the vaccine in their area.
Health authorities and physicians will be providing both seasonal influenza (to the usual high risk groups for seasonal influenza) and H1N1 vaccine (for anyone who needs and wants it) during the regular influenza season (December until March) as usual. People who get their H1N1 vaccine and for whom the seasonal flu vaccine is normally recommended are able to receive both shots at the same time.
Current status of outbreak:
- On June 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its alert level to phase 6 (the pandemic phase). The WHO considers the overall severity of the pandemic to be “moderate”, which means that most people recover from infection without the need for hospitalization or medical care;
- To put the H1N1 outbreak in perspective, 400 to 800 people die in British Columbia from the seasonal flu or pneumonia each year;
- The most current confirmed severe case counts are available online for Canada (PHAC), the U.S. (CDC) and internationally (WHO).
How can I stop the spread of the H1N1 flu virus?
- Experts have determined that the H1N1 flu virus can spread relatively easily from person to person;
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick, regardless of where you have travelled, unless directed to seek medical care. Limit contact with others;
- Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 if you have symptoms or concerns to speak to a nurse anytime of the day or night;
- See a health-care provider if your symptoms become worse but call ahead to let them know you have fever or cough illness;
- Exercise commonsense precautionary measures: cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. When you cough, do so into your sleeve if possible; wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
Where I can find more information?
- Fact sheets, resources and updates on the H1N1 flu virus in B.C. are available at www.gov.bc.ca/h1n1;
- To find a public clinic where you can get the H1N1 vaccine, use the Flu Clinic Locator at www.immunizebc.ca;
- Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca, 24 hours a day/seven days a week if you have questions/concerns or are feeling ill;
- Learn more about how to protect yourself against the flu at www.fightflu.ca.