It’s often said that no news is good news and this is definitely the case when it comes to the quiet flu season underway.
Peter Barss, medical health officer for Interior Health, said there has been no proven influenza in the Kootenay Boundary region while local senior facilities haven’t been dealt any in-house cases and schools note no unusual fluctuations in absentee numbers.
“It’s flu season without much flu,” said Barss, who adds that getting a flu shot is still one of the best ways to protect yourself from the sniffles, fever, aches and pains that accompany the flu.
“In the winter, people are not outside as much because it’s colder so you have more people congregating inside and there may also be other factors such as some heating systems leaving the home air dryer that could affect the membranes in your nose and throat and make an individual more susceptible to viruses,” he said.
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, face-to-face contact and by touching surfaces such as doorknobs and telephones that have been contaminated with the virus. Seniors, infants under two and people with chronic illness are most at risk from complications that can result from the flu.
‘Tis the season also for other bugs that could be circulating from the common cold or stomach flu (Norovirus) but IH doesn’t track these.
Barss recommends hand washing as one of the best practices to avoid picking up germs from workmates, friends or family.
“Put it this way, if one person in a big party gets infected (with the stomach flu) and there is a buffet, it could potentially hit every single person,” said Barss. “It can spread very fast but fortunately people do recover fast, even though it may be pretty uncomfortable for a least one or two days.”
Bev Cocco, resident care coordinator at Columbia View Lodge, said the senior facility’s clear season could be attributed to staff being diligent about hand washing and visitors staying home when they’re feeling under the weather.
If a tenant is ill, he or she is encouraged to remain in their room.
Rose Wood Village’s community manager, Jane Power, said they follow the same protocol.
“We have heard about colds and stomach flues zipping around the communities, however at Rose Wood we’ve been very diligent about our hand hygiene and making sure that we keep our residents safe so we’ve not experienced anything here and we’re very joyous about that,” she said.
Both Rossland Secondary School and J. L. Crowe note that student attendance has remained strong throughout flu season, but at times these figures don’t represent whether or not children are sick.
Crowe vice principal Patrick Kinghorn said people often go on with their regular daily activities even with a cold.
“I know as a parent of elementary-aged kids it’s tough when your kids are sick -– what do you do when you don’t have a grandparent or aunt and uncle close by?” he said. “A day without pay is the reality and at that point as a parent you have to make that call but it’s definitely been a part of school conversation.”