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Influenza in Alberta: Cases continue to decline, 3 new deaths added

A nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta, Feb. 7, 2018. Canada's chief public health officer says more children are being hospitalized this flu season because of an early spike in a strain of influenza B, which hits young people hard and is circulating across the country while a strain that typically targets the elderly also makes the rounds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David Goldman A nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta, Feb. 7, 2018. Canada's chief public health officer says more children are being hospitalized this flu season because of an early spike in a strain of influenza B, which hits young people hard and is circulating across the country while a strain that typically targets the elderly also makes the rounds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David Goldman
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Three more Albertans died from influenza in a one-week period, according to the latest data from health officials, while newly reported cases decreased for the 10th week in a row since the peak in mid-November.

The total of 105 deaths makes the current flu season the second-highest of 14 flu seasons in the province. The 2014-15 season had the highest number of deaths, with 114.

The three people who died were adults, two of them seniors. One senior was aged 80-89, while the other was 90 years or older. The third person was between the ages of 50-59.

The Edmonton zone reported two deaths, while the Calgary zone reported one.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

This influenza season, 1,996 Albertans have required hospital care. There were 17 new admissions in the latest update.

This season has the second-highest number of hospitalizations in 14 seasons so far.

The Calgary zone has had the most patients requiring hospital care with 753, followed by the Edmonton zone’s 553.

Of the 17 new admissions between Jan. 22 and 28, 29 per cent were aged nine or younger. Forty-one per cent were aged 60 or older.

To date, 208 people have required intensive care, an increase of three since the last update. The majority of ICU patients have also been in the Calgary zone.

Two of the new ICU admissions are people 60 years or older, while the third person was between the ages of 30-39.

CASES

New cases of influenza dropped for the 10th week straight after Alberta reported 54 new infections on Thursday.

According to Alberta Health data, this season has the second-highest number of cases in 14 seasons, with a total of 8,697 infections so far. The 2017-18 flu season had the highest number of cases with 9,115.

The Calgary zone has had the highest number of influenza cases in the province, with a total of 2,935 so far.

The Edmonton zone has the second-highest number of cases in Alberta with 2,484.

The Central zone has had 1,042 cases; the North zone has reported 1,553 cases; while the South zone has counted 676. Seven cases have not been assigned a zone.

Influenza A has made up 99.3 per cent of this season’s laboratory-confirmed cases.

OUTBREAKS AND VACCINATIONS

There have been a total of 95 outbreaks in Alberta this season, an increase of two. Fifty-six per cent have been at supportive living and home living sites.

More than 1.2 million influenza vaccines have been administered since Oct. 17, translating to 27.2 per cent of Albertans being immunized. There are also 62,498 more people vaccinated compared to this time last year.

Of Albertans aged 65 or older, 63.4 per cent have been vaccinated for influenza, while 26.6 per cent of children between six months and four years have their vaccine.

Alberta updates its influenza data on Thursdays.

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