2014-2015 influenza season

Advisory Alert

December 12, 2014

*Cette information est seulement disponible en anglais.

For all reporting, inquiries or comments, please contact:
Sudbury & District Health Unit at 705.522.9200, ext. 301.

Influenza activity has been occurring sporadically throughout Canada affecting several provinces and territories. In Ontario, the number of cases has been increasing over the past several weeks. It is expected that we will experience local influenza activity shortly.

According to FluWatch, Canada’s national influenza surveillance system, influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant strain affecting Canadians, with seniors over the age of 65 years being disproportionately affected. For the 2014/15 influenza season to date, 8 of the 10 influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 3 of the 13 influenza B viruses characterized by the National Microbiology Laboratory showed a suboptimal match against strains included in the 2014-15 flu vaccine which may affect vaccine effectiveness. However, the vaccine does protect against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B which are also currently circulating in Canada.

The flu vaccine remains the safest, most effective way to protect against the influenza virus. Even with antigenic drift, cross-protection might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. In addition, vaccination will offer protection against circulating influenza strains that have not undergone significant antigenic drift from the vaccine viruses. Please encourage all patients 6 months and older who have not yet received an influenza vaccine this season to be vaccinated against influenza as soon as possible.

Health care providers are reminded of the importance of collecting appropriate clinical specimens for those presenting with symptoms compatible with influenza infection. The recommended respiratory specimen is a nasopharyngeal swab or aspirate. Refer to the Public Health Ontario (PHO) November 2014 Labstract for Influenza and Other Respiratory Viral Testing for the 2014/15 season and the PHO specimen collection guide.
For the elderly population and other people at high-risk for complications, health providers may prescribe antivirals to reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease. It is important that antiviral drugs be started as early as possible after the onset of symptoms. Clinicians are encouraged to review guidance on the use of antiviral drug for treatment of influenza.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is continuing to monitor flu activity across the country and is in contact with Provincial and Territorial public health partners. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is piloting a classification system to describe influenza activity occurring across the province and will provide data that will assist health care organizations in local decision making related to service provision.

Influenza vaccine is available for ordering through your usual vaccine ordering processes.

I will continue to provide more information as it becomes available. Please contact my office should you have any questions or comments.

This item was last modified on September 9, 2016