The latest data released by Alberta Health Services on Thursday indicates that in addition to the 27 people who died in Calgary after becoming infected with influenza, there were 19 deaths in the Edmonton zone, 18 in the central zone, eight in the north and six in the south.
This flu season has been worse than others because the H3N2 strain has been the predominant strain this year, said David Priest, the medical director for infection prevention for Novant Health. "As the flu continues to make people sick - and even cause deaths - unscrupulous actors may also be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective", said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in the warning. A total of 7,733 influenza positive laboratory tests have been reported during this season. That includes 14 in the latest report.
The state is also seeing its first week in regional activity after experiencing widespread activity the past 11 weeks, which means flu-related activity is present in less than half the state's regions. The most recent deaths are all in the age group 50 years and older. The last season to see more pediatric flu deaths was 2014-2015, which reported 148 deaths during the entire season.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, told legislators February 28 that March is likely to have some weeks of continued high activity.
There were 299 confirmed flu cases last week among the state's seven largest hospital networks, representing 2.8 percent of the 10,568 confirmed flu cases those hospitals have experienced for the season. "Overall vaccine efficacy improves with the newer technologies if their quicker manufacturing times are combined with government-provided seed virus submissions from increased surveillance at the global level for mutations in the antigenic target of flu vaccines".
Anyone over 6 months of age should still get a flu shot, because there could be several weeks left in the season. The antiviral prescription medication Tamiflu is recommended to treat and prevent the flu, but shortages of the antiviral prescription drug during this severe flu season have helped fuel counterfeit drug sales.