It appears the worst of this year's flu season is now behind us.
Dr. Michael Routledge is Medical Officer of Health for Southern Health. He says the influenza season typically runs in six to eight week waves, with the peak coming about three to four weeks into that wave. Dr. Routledge says the peak happened around Christmas and so we are now on the other side.
"Certainly I expect that we're going to have more influenza activity in our region before the season's over, but we've probably seen our large blip," explains Dr. Routledge. "Often times we will see a second wave, it's usually not as big as the first one."
According to the most recent data from Manitoba Health, there were 85 cases of influenza within Southern Health between September 1st and December 29th. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority had 183 cases, Northern had 112, Prairie Mountain had 85 and Interlake-Eastern had 49.
"I'd say it was a fairly typical season," says Dr. Routledge. "It was a little bit less busy from a health care system perspective this year than last year."
Dr. Routledge says that is probably the result of the type of flu strain this year. This year's strain is largely H1N1, which tends to hit younger people. As a result, he says it has not been a busy season for their personal care homes.
"Last year where we had quite a busy season in personal care homes, this was a less busy season so far," he says. "And it's what we expect."
He notes there has been no specific part of the region that has been hit hardest this year.
As of December 28th, 20 per cent of Manitoba residents were immunized with the seasonal influenza vaccine. Though it won't be confirmed for a couple of months yet, Dr. Routledge says it appears this year's vaccine was a good match with the strain of flu circulating.
Meanwhile, Dr. Routledge offers a few tips for staying healthy for the rest of this winter. He encourages washing your hands regularly and to cough into your arm, so as not to spread germs. If you are sick, stay at home. He also urges maintaining a good diet, getting exercise and sleeping well.