10 dead from influenza in Alberta, Canada

Jan. 7, 2014 at 9:13 AM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Influenza killed 10, hospitalized 300 -- 40 in intensive care -- and created long lines for many seeking a flu shot in Alberta, Canada, officials say.

Dr. James Talbot, the chief medical officer of health for Alberta Health, said the outbreak is not a pandemic, but H1N1 is the recurring strain people are getting this year and it is beginning to strain the healthcare system, CBC reported.

"Virtually all of the influenza that we're seeing in the province this year is H1N1," Talbot told the CBC.

The 10 people, who died from influenza, were of 18 to 64 years of age, unlike other flu seasons when most flu fatalities were 65 and older, Alberta health officials said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said influenza activity, specifically the H1N1 strain, is widespread only in Alberta, but other provinces are experiencing increased influenza as well.

Talbot said in the past week those seeking a flu shot -- only 23 percent of Canadians are immunized against the flu -- has increased and some clinics in Alberta ran out of vaccine.

However, Tuesday clinics in Alberta are scheduled to again be offering flu vaccinations for free. Some drug stores in the province also provide flu vaccines for about $20.

Nonetheless, the influenza vaccine needs two weeks to become effective to combat the virus.

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