Public health officials in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia report that 27 people have died after contracting an influenza illness this season.
In New Brunswick, there are 13 influenza-related deaths and 207 hospitalizations, while Nova Scotia reports 14 influenza-related deaths and 157 hospitalizations.
Jennifer Russell, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Brunswick, says the flu started earlier this season and may have affected the number of deaths reported.
In Prince Edward Island, there were 3 deaths and 42 hospitalizations during the period from the beginning of the influenza season to the last week of January.
Signs of slowdown
At the national level, influenza activity remains high, but has been showing signs of slowing down since mid-January.
What do H and N mean?
Humans are affected by both influenza A and type B viruses. Type A includes H1N1 and H3N2, among others. H and N represent the proteins present in the virus. H means hemagglutinin and N is neuraminidase. There are also several kinds of H and N; that’s why the virus is constantly changing.
Source: Health Canada
In the majority of cases, the influenza detected is type A (H3N2). Studies have confirmed the low efficacy (17%) of the vaccine against this type of flu this season.
In contrast, 40% of detections so far this season in Canada were influenza type B, for which the vaccine available is 55% effective.