(Image / Island Health Facebook)

A new H1N1 strain of influenza hit Vancouver Island hard this winter season, especially in middle-aged adults and children.

The influenza, or flu, caused a greater number of adults and children to be hospitalized this year.

“H1N1 Is the dominant strain this year,” Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton told Victoria Buzz.

“It affects middle aged and children as much as the elderly.”

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Over the winter season, 197 lab confirmed cases appeared at Island Health centres. Of these nearly 200 cases, 25% of them were children.

Overall, this season’s influenza hospitalization rates remained close to last year’s, but the average age for these patients in late 2018 and early 2019 is much lower than in previous flu seasons.

“Typically, the average age [for flu patients] is 80 years old during flu season.”

“This year, it’s closer to 60 years old.”

Prevention

Thorough hand washing remains your best protection against flus and colds, says Island Health.

“Hand hygiene is the best preventative measure.”

“If you are sick you should stay at home and recover to prevent the spread of the flu bug.”

Despite a rough year for younger patients suffering from the flu, the BC CDC says that the worst has already passed.

“They believe we have already peaked,” said Burton.

Viruses can change every year, says Island Health. That’s why treatments like vaccines must be updated annually.

This year’s strain of H1N1 is far removed from the Swine Flu that swept through North America a decade ago. “It is a completely different flu virus from the one in 2008,” said Burton.

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