Spring is coming and so is the flu

Spring is coming and the flu too

The flu is making a comeback this spring.

The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Here are the famous harbingers of spring, but also of the flu…

In its latest report, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) observed an increase in flu cases this season, particularly in Montreal. The metropolis is currently beset by type B influenza. The number of cases has increased significantly by 7.09%. On the North Shore, this strain is spreading to a greater extent in the Laurentians (increase of 5.96%) as well as in Laval (increase of 4.86%).

As for type A influenza, it is more widespread in Montérégie, where the number of infections has increased by 8.31%.

The two strains are different, but cause relatively similar symptoms: muscle aches, fever, runny nose, cough. However, these may manifest less severely in cases of influenza type B.

A unusual

Although this is not an “unprecedented” phenomenon, the expert in immunology and virology of the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) Alain Lamarre calls this trend “quite unusual”.

“The pandemic has come to change the “habits” of certain respiratory viruses a little. Influenza is one. There have been years when there have been no cases of influenza at all, while others have been seen at times of the year when usually there are hardly any. .”

To illustrate his remarks, Alain Lamarre recalls that last fall, there was an unexpected and significant increase in the number of children infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

“During the pandemic, respiratory viruses were better controlled than usual, in particular by adopting responsible practices to limit their transmission: wearing a mask, social distancing, vaccination, etc. Once these measures were abandoned, respiratory infections returned to the charge in a more important way,” he explains.

A two-for-one vaccine

In terms of protection against this resurgence of the flu, Alain Lamarre recommends especially to vulnerable people, that’that is to say the elderly, immunosuppressed or suffering from chronic illness, to go get vaccinated. These are the individuals most at risk of developing severe complications from infection.

“The vaccine that was distributed last fall, and is still available, contains both strains of ;influenza. It works well against the type A strain circulating, he says. I assume that this will also be the case for the type B strain, but we do not yet have experimental proof in this area, but the analyzes are in progress.

Wearing a mask in enclosed or crowded places is also encouraged.

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