Some 1,000 people have gotten sick from a H1N1 strain of flu in Alberta, a province in Canada. Five infected people have died, the province’s health minister said Friday, while about 250 of these cases required hospitalizations.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a surge in the number of influenza cases across Alberta,” Health Minister Fred Horne said in a statement. “Many of those affected are healthy young adults.”
Horne is concerned “that we are seeing younger, working-age adults being hospitalized.” He said, “Sadly, five Albertans admitted to the ICU have died.” Horne is urging Canadians to get the flu shot, as only one in five residents have been vaccinated. Alberta has extended hours at centers offering the flu shot to encourage more people to be immunized by the time February rolls around, which is usually a peak in flu season. In some hospitals, “influenza is starting to clog emergency rooms, limit access to hospital beds, and put strain on other health care resources,” Horne said.
Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada noted that 90 percent of the cases were caused by the dominant influenza A H1N1 strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that those who are predominantly affected this flu season are young adults.
In 2009, the H1N1 flu virus caused a pandemic that killed over 203,000, and was called “swine flu” as it had first been identified in pigs. The researchers of a study who calculated the death toll of the 2009 pandemic noted that many of those who fell victim to H1N1 were “younger people” and “those living in certain parts of the Americas” such as Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) declared in 2010 that the world was post-pandemic for H1N1, the virus still manages to circulate during flu season. In the U.S., influenza activity is increasing as well, according to a recent report by the CDC. Thus far, the CDC has reported that there have been over 1,500 confirmed cases of influenza in the U.S. in 2013. Several people have died in Texas from the swine flu, including a teenager from Houston. Other states that have seen the spread of influenza include Alaska, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.