Flu shots are still available through AHS, pharmacies and physicians. File photo

Flu shots are still available through AHS, pharmacies and physicians. File photo

Influenza hits hard in Alberta

Flu season hits hard

Influenza has hit hard throughout Alberta this year and some deaths have been reported in the central zone.

Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services Central Zone said most of the deaths were in the elderly, although some of those who passed away due to the flu were younger people.

Influenza is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by a virus which can be spread by touching objects that have been coughed or sneezed on by someone who has the virus. It can also be spread through the air.

Symptoms can be a dry persistent cough, muscle ache, fatigue and weakness, chills and sweats, headache, nasal congestion and sore throat.

People at higher risk of developing flu complications include children, especially those less than two years of age, adults over 65, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart or kidney disease are also at high risk.

Achebe encourages people with the flu to stay at home and not run the risk of spreading it to other people.

She said there have been more cases and outbreaks of flu this year.

“We have been quite busy compared to last year and the season is not over yet.”

She encourages the public to get a flu shot, noting it is free and still available to all Albertans six months of age and older. People who are visiting residents in nursing homes or hospitals should be sure and get a flu shot, she added.

The flu shot is available through Alberta Health Services, pharmacies and physicians.

The vaccine helps protect against both A and B strains of influenza.