Health officials say-Cases of flu strain affecting kids spike in B.C.

B.C.’s provincial health officer says that while influenza tends to peak in December, the number of infections involving a strain affecting children is climbing unusually early this year.

Dr. Perry Kendall said said, “The B [influenza] virus is predominantly affecting children under the age of five, but it’s also noticeable in five to 19-year-olds, so in school outbreaks it’s predominating.”

He said that for those over the age of 55, the A influenza strain H3N2 outweighs other strains. B.C. has seen three recent outbreaks of the virus in long-term care facilities.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says more than 10 per cent of absenteeism at work sites and schools right now is most likely due to influenza-like illnesses.

Kendall is warning members of the public to stay at home if they are sick, and take precautions against catching or spreading the virus.

Kendall adds that  it’s common to see more cases of the flu around the holidays.

“As we move into the holiday season where people are mixing and mingling, that’s when we expect to see more transmission.”

He said, “That’s why we advise people, if you’re feeling ill, don’t go spread your germs to your relatives, and if you’re visiting people in hospitals or long-term care, be vaccinated, or wear a mask, or stay home.”