H1N1 expected to peak in a week or two

Interior Health doesn't have numbers for Royal Inland Hospital, but it's likely some of the 17 people within the authority hospitalized due to H1N1 flu are at RIH.

Medical health officer Dr. Rob Parker said Thursday the swine flu is expected to peak in another one to two weeks, but will still be circulating for at least the next month.

Most flu cases go untested or unconfirmed, with patients staying at home until they recover.

But some lab work is being done and it's showing 51 confirmed cases of H1N1 IHA-wide. Of those, 17 people were admitted to hospital, but some of those patients probably had complications due to other health issues, he said.

Nine of those 17 H1N1 patients have ended up in intensive-care.

About one-third of the cases were in the Kootenays, one-third in the Okanagan and one-third in the Thompson-Cariboo.

Melinda Winterwerb's teenage son seemed to be sick with a cold Monday morning, with coughing and sneezing and just a hint of fever.

He went to school, but he quickly got more and more exhausted.

"He was having major headaches where he was asking me for a lobotomy it hurt so bad," she said.

So Thursday morning, she called the doctor who recommended she take her son to the hospital.

"They said it was most likely H1N1," she said. "They gave him an anti-nausea medication. He seems to be doing better."

Winterwerb has three other children, so she took them to get the nose-spray flu vaccination. She also called her son's school, South Kamloops secondary.

Parker said while the influenza peak is arriving at about the normal time, what's unusual this year is that in Alberta, more cases are showing up in working adults between 20 and 64, and there are more serious cases ending up in hospital.

"The severity is different in that it's affecting younger adults more than we normally expect."

That trend is starting to show up in B.C. now, along with some serious flu cases in toddlers.

The reason those two groups are showing up more in the H1N1 numbers is that young adults don't have a high immunization rate and toddlers have been born since the 2009 pandemic haven't necessarily had the vaccine, which wears off after one year.

Seniors are least at risk because they were alive in the 1950s or so when H1N1 first began circulating, albeit in a slightly different form. They're also more vigilant about getting their flu shots, Parker added.

There's still free vaccine available to children from age 18 months to five years, and adults between 20 and 64 are eligible if they have health concerns.

Despite all the precautions, every flu season involves deaths, whether it's a few dozen or more than 100, he said.

"It's looking like it's going to be moderately bad. I don't think it's going to be as bad as 2009," he said.

Anyone in the at-risk groups seeking a flu shot should call the health unit at 250-851-7300 in Kamloops or the unit in their community.

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