Montreal hit hard with the flu this season
The flu season has hit Quebec hard this year and it's far from over.
In the last week of 2014, public health officials recorded more than 1,800 cases of influenza – ten times the cases recorded at the same time last year.
The Lakeshore General Hospital has the highest rate of overcapacity, followed by Verdun Hospital and Fleury Hospital.
The Montreal Children’s General Hospital has also seen a surge.
“We've had seasonal volumes over the holidays, about 290 patients a day on average. Some peak days, we had 330, one day 380,” said Dr. Harley Eisman, director of the Children’s Hospital emergency department.
The peak of flu season is usually right about now.
“It's hard to predict nature. I think it peaked earlier than usual. Usually there's a peak after the holiday period so it's just a combination of a lot of factors,” he said.
During the holidays, Montrealers made 2900 emergency room visits because of this year’s nasty strain of the illness.
Even though flu season came several weeks early this year – and with a vengeance – Montreal's public health officials say we're not out of the woods just yet.
“For now, we don't know if we've hit the peak. We need to stay vigilant and help our hospitals, which are dealing with congestion. We're asking people not to go to the ER unless necessary,” said Dr. Jacques Ricard, directorgeneral of general services and chronic illness at Montreal Public Health.
If you suspect the flu, call Info Sante at 811, where a nurse can tell you if your symptoms warrant a trip to the hospital, said Ricard, adding that they rarely do.
Family doctors and pharmacists should be the front-line resources in the fight against flu, he said.
“Unfortunately the flu came earlier this year. It's a more virulent strain and the vaccine is less effective against it,” said Ricard.
Even if this year's vaccine is only 40 per cent effective, Ricard still recommends it, especially for those in close contact with young children and the elderly.
While the virus mutates year after year, the remedy to treat the flu hasn't changed.
“Again, it's grandma's remedy,” said Eisman. “A modicum of rest, fluid, hydration, fever reducer.”
Another remedy? Time.