Health experts say the flu is bad this season and urge people to take precautions.
“The flu is worse this year because the strains influenza A and B are infecting people at the same time. Influenza B usually shows up later in the season, it is early this year (and) people can have both strains simultaneously,” said Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia.
“We do have more cases than last year, and the illness is more severe. The peak of cases is expected over the next week or so.”
The influenza A strain is also worrisome for health officials. Strang said it can lead to more severe diseases such as pneumonia, dehydration and septic shock. People at risk are seniors, infants, pregnant women, Indigenous people and those with chronic illnesses.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, influenza A and influenza B have caused 110 deaths so far, compared to 130 deaths last year for the entire flu season.
In the last week, the Nova Scotia Health Authority reported 45 confirmed flu cases, compared to 32 cases by this time last year.
“The flu happens every year, so it is no surprise to health officials,” said Strang. “When the strain is worse, as expected this year, we increase the health messages to the public: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home when you are sick, and get the flu shot.”
While there are remedies on the market, Crystal Chaulk, a pharmacist at Guardian Pharmacy in Halifax, said people may increase their vitamin intake, but it is not effective.
“(People should) live a normal life with a healthy diet. Increased doses of vitamin C is an old wives’ tale. You are not going to increase your immunity by pumping up the vitamins for a few days,” she said.
Instead, people should get the flu shot, as it’s still the best defence against infection.
“It is about a combination of preventative measures; the flu shot is secondary to prevention,” said Chaulk.
The flu shot is free and can be administered by pharmacists, family doctors and nurse practitioners.