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Flu losing traction in Nanaimo

Flu season in the Harbour City is losing its fever.

Health officials say the harsh wave of influenza virus residents were bracing for seems to have failed to materialize.

“We certainly haven’t seen the same level of influenza activity that the other side of the straits were experiencing,” said Paul Hasselback, central Island medical health officer with the Vancouver Island Health Authority. “It actually appears at this point in time to be decreasing in terms of intensity of spread.

“When we start seeing these decreases, it is suggestive that we’re actually on the side of getting out of it.”

While this is good news, it doesn’t mean that we’re in the clear just yet, Hasselback said.

“There is still influenza occurring and there are cases occurring,” he said.

There are a number of factors to track trends in viral outbreaks, including how often people are visiting the doctor, long-term care facilities and schools. Physician activity peaked about mid-January, Hasselback said.

In December, an outbreak of the influenza A virus impacted Nanaimo Seniors Village, affecting more than 25 residents who either contracted the strain or showed symptoms.

True influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory system which affects the nose, throat and lungs. Common symptoms can include chills, muscle ache and fever. In children, nausea and vomiting is also a common symptom.

Norovirus, which is sometimes erroneously referred to as ‘stomach flu’, is an illness which causes gastroenteritis. Its main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.

“Norovirus continues to be out there, there’s some evidence that it’s alleviating somewhat, but we do have ongoing outbreaks, more in the south Island,” Hasselback said.

He said it is important for people to continue to uphold common illness prevention practices like hand-washing and vaccinations.

“We’ve been fortunate this year, and it’s always nice to be fortunate – that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to stress good personal hygiene, and prevent illness as much as possible,” Hasselback said.

“When it’s implemented, that contributes to us being fortunate.”

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