Two flu strains showing up simultaneously presents an abnormal trend
HALIFAX -- Physicians who keep watch over the types of flu strains circulating are making note of an abnormal trend this season.
Strains of both influenza A and B are making the rounds at the same time and there have been two reported deaths in New Brunswick.
It's the time of year for peak influenza activity, and a clearer picture is beginning to form about which flu strains are going around.
"In a typical flu season we see influenza A and then at the end of the flu season -- March even into April we see 'influenza B," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health. "Last year and again this year we're actually seeing a mix of influenza A and influenza B together."
That by itself is not alarming to Nova Scotia's top doctor.
However, the very young might be at a greater risk, earlier than usual.
"Influenza B can sometimes have more of an impact on children, so we may have more children affected at this time of the flu season," Strang said.
Canada's Public Health Agency is already reporting the number of pediatric flu cases is well above average for this time of year -- activity that is starting to appear in the Maritimes.
"In the last few weeks, we've started to see an increase in flu activity, whether its people presenting to emergency room, or the number of lab-confirmed cases," Strang said.
The flu shot became available in the fall and is recommended for every age demographic, but especially the very young and elderly.
"It's not too late to get the flu shot if you haven't already got one," said Dr. Chris Goodyear, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society president. "If you fall in the at-risk population, or the elderly population, we encourage you to go out and get your flu shot absolutely."
Strang says the early signs of the vaccine's effectiveness are encouraging.
"The evidence to date would say we can expect to get good protection from this year's flu vaccine against both A and B strains," Strang said.
Exact information to show how effective the 2020 flu shot is won't become available until February at the earliest.