Winnipeg struck by three influenza strains, health officials left scrambling
TORONTO -- Flu season has hit Winnipeg with three times the power due to multiple strains of the virus circulating at once, leaving health officials scrambling.
In some emergency rooms across Winnipeg this January, it’s been standing room only -- the seats are full of people suffering from flu symptoms. Doctors have been telling family members to leave the seats for the sickest patients.
The cause of the uptick in patients is due to three separate flu strains attacking the population, according to health officials. They are seeing cases of influenza A and B, as well as cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a lung infection that usually affects children.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says that some patients may have to be sent to hospitals outside of the city for care due to the volume of people affected.
It’s a problem that is echoed across Canada, as the government’s FluWatch is reporting a significant increase in influenza outbreaks. Between Dec. 15, 2019 and Jan. 4, 2020, 162 outbreaks were recorded, a recent report indicates. There have been a total of 228 outbreaks recorded since the end of August 2019.
The overlap between the strains is a concern for health officials.
“This year we have a couple of strains that are dominant,” Dr. Colin Lee told CTV News Barrie. “We have both an influenza A strain and an influenza B strain. Usually they don’t come together at the same time, but they are somehow coming together.”
Health authorities are warning that influenza B is circulating at higher levels than in years past. On average, influenza B is normally not seen in these numbers until February or March.
It’s not too late to get your flu shot, health officials say. The next two weeks are expected to contain the highest reported cases of illnesses.