Public health officials say influenza caused the death of a southern Ontario child, and suspect the virus may also be to blame for a second adolescent death.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said the coroner notified them of the first death on Jan. 31, and the second on Feb. 8. The first death is confirmed to be linked to influenza B. The second death is still under investigation. It is unknown if the cases are related.
“Our sympathies are with the families at this time,” Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health and CEO for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, said in a statement on Friday. “Influenza is a serious respiratory infection and the flu season is not over.”
Christopher Beveridge, the health protection director for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, said there have been “quite a few” institutional out breaks this flu season. Children are especially vulnerable to contracting the virus.
“Certainly in the case of the child that died, influenza B was a contributing factor, and in the second case that we are investigating it’s too early to tell. But samples are at the lab and those results are pending,” he told CTV Kitchener.
Officials have said this year’s flu season has been particularly aggressive. According to the latest FluWatch report of the Public Health Agency of Canada released Friday, five children under 16 have been reported to have died of the flu in Canada as of Feb. 3. The illness has resulted in 511 pediatric hospital admissions, 83 of them to the ICU.
According to the latest national assessment, influenza activity remains at peak levels but there are signs that activity is starting to slow down in parts of the country.
There have been 33,095 lab-confirmed cases of influenza so far this season, with children up to 4 accounting for 8 per cent of cases and 10 per cent being among those 5 to 19.
In all, there have been 130 deaths and 3,108 hospital admissions due to the flu this season.