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Interior Health keeping a keen eye on respiratory viruses

by News Desk
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by Don Urquhart, Times Chronicle

Recent hospitalization data for influenza and other respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), do not show a large increase in inland health areas, but officials are making progress in Ontario and Prairie. We are noticing an increase in the number of infections.

speak to Times Chronicle Interior Health’s interim chief medical health officer, Dr. Sue Pollock, said there were fewer than 30 hospitalizations across the region for influenza and RSV by last week. and influenza in the elderly.

BC Children’s Hospital in the Lower Mainland saw a 20% increase in patient numbers in the emergency department as of the first week of November compared to the same period last year (approximately 142-150 visits per day) .

“What we can learn from the SARS-CoV-2 test data [COVID-19] The predominant circulating virus we see is still a virus, but it has stabilized and we have not seen a significant increase. It’s becoming more and more,” said Pollock.

“We’re certainly watching the situation very closely and we’re still not seeing the same level of activity here in BC so we’ll definitely be monitoring what’s happening across the country, but things are definitely picking up. It’s starting to happen, so we’re watching it closely.”

RSV is a common childhood virus and almost all children are infected at least once before they are two years old. For most healthy children, RSV is like the common cold, but some children can become very ill.

In a Nov. 16 Update on Various Respiratory Diseases, state health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the lack of infections in the past two years has led to developing immunity to RSV and other common respiratory viruses. A cohort of children who were not let down was said to have occurred. Most of it occupies children’s wards, which are overflowing in other parts of the country.

She added that there are some other common seasonal respiratory viruses like enteroviruses.

Pollock emphasized that “the virus identified so far is not new” and that it was not unexpected. “Viruses that cause respiratory disease have a seasonal pattern that tends to circulate in the fall and winter.”

As a result, more people are seeking medical care with symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever and cough, she added. We want to prevent these viruses before they reach us,” she added hastily.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to acute respiratory infections, especially influenza A strains, which most affect young people and children under the age of 19.

“Over the past few years during the pandemic, we have not seen the normal pattern of circulation for other respiratory viruses. I couldn’t,” said Pollock.

“Considering that we are now entering the fall and winter and have not had the same public health measures as in previous years, it is not unexpected to see viruses such as influenza and RSV. said Pollock.

“It’s been interesting to watch over the past few years for these other viruses with seasonal patterns,” she said, noting the restraining effect of strong public health measures.

Measures such as social distancing, staying home when sick, masking and other public health protocols put in place to check for more severe COVID-19 spreads will minimize the circulation of these other viruses. It had a limiting effect.

This seems to have had the unintended but inevitable consequence of denying many people, especially children, the ability to build natural immunity to commonly circulating viruses.

“I don’t know how the season will turn out. It’s too early to tell, but we can take this opportunity now to prevent as many infections as possible and not end up with a really tough season. other viruses.”

“We now have this opportunity to go out and get vaccinated (either the flu vaccine or the COVID vaccine) and provide that level of protection not only for ourselves, but for those around us,” Pollock said. I am emphasizing

The message remains the same. Follow common sense protocols that have been proven effective over the last two years. Stay home when sick, practice social distancing, wash your hands, wear a mask when you are indoors when necessary (especially when people move indoors and gather for celebrations), your family, Get vaccinated to protect your friends and the people around you.

“The good news is that there’s a lot of interest in the flu vaccine,” Pollock said. [week of Nov. 14] Between Interior Health and pharmacies, 150,000 flu vaccines were administered. This is a great number for us. We’re on a good trajectory here and hope to continue to see it to give people a chance to be protected before being exposed to the flu. “

She added that flu vaccines, like the COVID vaccine, are free, and individuals can access them through the state’s Get Vaccinated system to check availability at clinics.

Pollock acknowledged the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12. “We don’t have a very high penetration rate. We absolutely need to work on COVID vaccination of this group,” she said.

But Pollock doesn’t believe vaccine hesitation about COVID-19 vaccines for children will necessarily affect flu vaccinations for children. Individuals and families will be “more comfortable and friendlier” and, as a result, more likely to be vaccinated, she said.

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