Full of emergency rooms, full of people with fever and cough who suffer from the flu. It is a scene that takes place in hospitals across the country.
Experts say this flu season began a little earlier than normal and is now accelerating.
That certainly seemed clear at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on boxing day.
“We saw 510 people stop by our emergency room department and our children’s clinic after hours that day,” said Dr. Tasleem Nimjee, an emergency doctor at the hospital.
What may also be a bit unusual is the presence of both influenza strains at the same time. Influenza A mainly affects the elderly, while influenza B generally targets children and young people. Normally, one strain decreases as the other reaches its peak.
Each year, the flu kills about 3,000 Canadians, often young children, the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma.
So far, there have been almost 12,500 confirmed cases of influenza in Canada and 10 deaths.
In Manitoba, two families are recovering from the recent death of their loved ones. Joanne Ens, 24, died of a bacterial infection after fighting the flu for several days, while Blaine Ruppenthal, 17, also died of flu complications.
It is that cost in the body exacerbated by the flu that worries doctors.
“The flu can complicate pre-existing heart disease, asthma, chronic lung diseases, often causes pneumonia and that is its causal route. It is what makes people really sick,” said Dr. Mark Loeb, director of disease division infectious at McMaster University in Hamilton.
In Ajax, Ontario, about 50 miles east of Toronto, Wendy Wilson is recovering from pneumonia that left her with a broken rib. It started with a sore throat and flu-like symptoms.
“I was afraid of walking fast or moving too fast because it was as if I suddenly started coughing and I feel I can’t catch my breath,” he said.
“It was shocking because it came so fast.”
And those symptoms can sometimes get worse, Nimjee said.
“If someone really has trouble breathing and cannot drive without assisted support, without oxygen or hydration or needs intravenous antibiotics, those would be the people who would be admitted to the hospital,” he said.
Climb the mountain
However, experts say it is still too early to measure the severity of this particular flu season. While doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the USA. UU. They point out ominous signs, such as the widespread activity of influenza and hospitalizations, as indicators of a bad year, the Canadian figures, so far, do not confirm it.
“According to the data until January 4, 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada would not characterize the current flu season as severe at this time,” officials told CBC News in an email response to the questions.
Loeb agreed that it is too early to know. Usually, the flu season runs from mid-November to April.
“Flu epidemics are like a mountain. It’s like an ascent and then you reach a peak and then you descend. Now we are on the ascent of that mountain and we don’t know exactly where it will reach its peak.”
However, doctors agree on one thing: get a flu shot.
Although this year’s vaccine may not be a perfect combination for current strains, some protection is always better than none, according to Loeb.
“Sometimes, prevention is harder for people to understand than treatment.”