Flu infections are raging among children and hospitalizing them across Canada, say pediatricians who are calling for urgent and longer-term solutions.
On the weekend, hospitals across the country were forced to scale back regular service to deal with a surge in influenza illnesses:
- CHEO in Ottawa said the Red Cross will be deployed to help out with its surge of cases.
- A respite care facility in Calgary closed to redeploy staff to a children’s hospital.
- BC Children’s Hospital declared an emergency for 30 minutes on Saturday to quickly boost capacity and resources.
- Newfoundland and Labrador’s children’s hospital cancelled some scheduled surgeries and appointments.
Doctors say the moves reflect a surge in influenza on top of long-standing pressures on both pediatric hospitals and care providers in the community. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have, in the meantime, stabilized after spiking earlier this season.
For the week ending Nov. 26, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch reported 223 influenza-associated hospitalizations among children 16 and under.
That’s up from an average of 11, with a maximum of 35, at pediatric hospitals from 2014-15 to 2019-20, says Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“This shows that we have had an early and intense influenza season so far this year, hitting the pediatric population particularly hard,” he said in an email.
Similarly in the U.S., Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that flu is at its highest level the U.S. has seen for a decade. So far this season, 14 youth in the U.S. have died.
Federal health officials haven’t released the exact number of influenza deaths among those aged 16 and under so far this season but say it’s fewer than five. The number of deaths for that age group were in the single digits annually before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bend the curve with flu shots
Influenza is “overwhelmingly … causing a lot of problems,” particularly for children under five, said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Ste. Justine’s Hospital in Montreal.
But it’s not necessarily the flu, alone, that’s the problem, she says.
Rather, kids catch the flu, which leaves them prone to “really significant bacterial infections,” like pneumonia — and that’s when they land in hospital.
Kakkar says she’d like to see an emphasis on influenza vaccination for children, including publicity campaigns.
“I say this because I think it’s not too late and especially in parts of the country where influenza hasn’t taken hold, I would really like to see people encouraging and making it easier for parents and their children to be vaccinated.”
Whitehorse-based pediatrician Dr. Katharine Smart called it “immensely concerning” that children who are acutely ill and need attention quickly are having trouble receiving it.
But there are other, bigger-picture problems throughout the pediatric health-care system that deserve attention, she says.
Smart, past president of the Canadian Medical Association, cites wait-times for surgery for young people with scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, as an example.
“I’ve had patients that had to put off their post-secondary school planning because they don’t know when they’re going to get the operation and the recovery,” Smart said. “They say, ‘Well, how do I go off to college if I don’t know that I’m going to now have to have a massive spine surgery and be out of commission for weeks or months?'” she said. “Some of these [teens] have been waiting three to four years for this operation.”
Other health-care needs for children are provided outside of the hospital, which is especially important in the first years of life, such as autism services. Some kids aren’t able to access services to improve their speech, social skills and cognition. Once a child is in kindergarten, they may no longer be eligible for certain help because the developmental window to intervene has closed.
“These are problems that we’re seeing across the country,” Smart said. She suggests bolstering nurse staffing and retention.
She also wants to see more uptake of the flu vaccine among children and adults, to “bend the curve” for overwhelmed health-care systems.
The good news, Papenburg says, is that the influenza A H3N2 strain that is mainly circulating in Canada now is genetically the same as the strain in this year’s influenza vaccine. “That bodes well for good vaccine effectiveness, although that needs to be assessed in field studies now underway.”
In the long term, researchers are evaluating newer vaccine technologies for better, longer-lasting flu immunization, he said.
Like Smart, Papenburg suggested governments “invest in our child health care systems capacity, so that we can better handle these types of unpredictable surges of infections in our pediatric population.”
“When you look at Canada, we rank 30th out of 38 countries for childhood well-being,” Smart said. “It’s really shocking to think a country, as wealthy as ours, is doing that poorly for our kids, but it’s because we do not have a strategy for children.”
Health officials also recommend that people mask in indoor public places, screen daily for respiratory symptoms, stay home when sick, practice hand hygiene and keep surfaces clean to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses such as RSV and flu.
BlackburnNews.com – Outbreak declared at local hospital – BlackburnNews.com
Outbreak declared at local hospital
January 30, 2023 5:41am
A COVID-19 Outbreak has been declared on the Inpatient Unit at Seaforth Community Hospital.
Quality, Patient Safety & Infection Control Manager Erica Jensen explains what an outbreak means.
“An outbreak refers to two or more COVID positive cases. So one of our control measures in response to outbreaks is that we restrict the family and caregiver presence on the unit to essential need only, so that is for palliative patients,” Jensen stated.
Jensen adds, the restrictions will be in place until, in collaboration with the local health unit, they can determine that no ongoing transmission is occurring within the outbreak unit.
“Definitely call ahead if you’re wanting to visit someone at the Seaforth Hospital. I know that the staff there are working diligently to contact family and caregivers who do have loved ones in the hospital right now,” Jensen added.
Jensen also points out, as much as COVID cases have gone down recently, testing is still quite limited, so it’s difficult to know exactly what the situation is and COVID is still present, so the outbreak wasn’t a complete surprise. She advises people to continue to take precautions like washing their hands, wearing a mask in public places and get vaccinated.
Many good health reasons to eat an apple every day – Delta Optimist
Apples are one of the oldest cultivated fruit, dating back at least 6,500 years, and have some of the greatest health benefits. There is truth behind the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
They are high in soluble fibre, low calorie, low on the glycemic index, and contain beneficial vitamins like Vitamin C, quercetin, pectin and potassium. They are a good antioxidant (especially the peel) and are the number one fruit to help prevent diabetes, cancer and heart disease. They help lower cholesterol as the soluble fibre in apples binds with saturated fat (preventing it from entering the bloodstream).
To aid weight loss, it is beneficial to eat an apple prior to a meal, as they curb your appetite. Apples encourage more saliva production, which protects your teeth. Some studies show mental health benefits of increased intellectual capabilities and a slowing down of mental aging and Parkinson’s (due to their antioxidant properties). The fibre and quercetin (a plant polyphenol) builds immunity to combat virus and bacteria, especially when one is stressed. The antioxidant properties help regulate ocular muscles and nerves, helping to preserve one’s eyesight.
Apples also speed up liver regeneration. The pectin in apples binds with heavy metals in the gut (aluminum and lead) and helps eliminate them. Heavy metal poisoning is one of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Apples are also proven to reduce anxiety when eaten regularly. The soluble fibre pectin aids IBS symptoms and ulcerative colitis.
Apple cider vinegar (fermented apple juice) has become a health rage and has its own set of health benefits including aiding digestion and weight loss, lowering inflammation and boosting energy.
Consuming it before a meal is said to help reduce blood sugar spikes afterward. It also helps with the absorption of the following nutrients: protein, calcium, iron, carbohydrates, fats, Vitamins A,B,C and E and magnesium. Apple cider vinegar is an antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral helps with absorption of calcium and other minerals. Even though it is acidic, once absorbed in the gut it is slightly alkaline. As it is acidic before digestion, it shouldn’t sit on the teeth as it may soften enamel. It is best to drink apple cider vinegar through a straw or rinse your mouth out afterwards with water.
These are some (proven and unproven) folk remedies using apple cider vinegar. Here are several but not all: removes age spots, as a soak for arthritic hands and feet or for athlete’s foot, soften foot corns, prevents asthma, heals bruises, fights cancer, helps prevent cataracts, eliminates cold sores, soothes a sore throat, eliminates cramping, treats dandruff, lowers blood sugars, kills diarrhea causing bacteria, soothes eczema and itching due to rashes, bites or stings, eliminates fatigue, increases stomach acid for those with gallbladder issues (associated with low stomach acid), aids hay fever, reduces headaches, dissolves the glue that holds nits (head lice eggs) onto the hair, treats hiccups, lowers blood pressure, aids osteoporosis by aiding calcium absorption, stops nose bleeds, aids absorption of all vitamins and minerals, treats smelly feet and warts.
As with any alternative remedy, it is important to talk to your naturopath and doctor beforehand to make sure there are no contra-indications with existing medicines, but there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that apples and apple cider vinegar contribute to healthy living. There are also many beauty aids but space prevents me from covering them in this article.
I personally use apple cider vinegar in a wonderful salad dressing with our Lemon-Honey Elixir, crushed garlic, avocado oil and a pinch of dried mustard.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca. The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment.
Hospitalizations fall at North Vancouver’s Lions Gate – North Shore News
COVID-19 infections haven’t gone away on the North Shore.
But serious illnesses from respiratory diseases of all types are on the decline.
That’s the latest information this week that can be teased from statistics from both B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health.
One of the biggest indicators of serious illness – hospitalizations – are thankfully on the decline.
Number of people in Lions Gate Hospital drops over 7%
Between Jan. 6, when Health Minister Adrian Dix first raised the alarm about high numbers of hospitalizations, the number of people in hospital at Lions Gate on the North Shore has fallen 7.2 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health. The number of people in hospital at Lions Gate went from 319 on Jan. 6 to 296 on Jan. 26.
A similar trend was seen at most major hospitals in B.C.
In Vancouver Coastal Health, hospitalizations fell 10.6 per cent in Richmond, 6.5 per cent at St. Paul’s and 4.2 per cent at Vancouver General. The only hospital where that didn’t happen was B.C. Children’s, where numbers remained stable.
As of Jan. 26, there were 42 people hospitalized who had tested positive for COVID-19 in VCH, two of those in critical care. There were also three new deaths in VCH among people who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, flu – which peaked early in November – has now fallen to low levels. RSV infections – which have hit children hardest – remain high but have continued to decline. COVID cases have remained relatively stable.
North Shore sewage plant data shows small COVID uptick
According to recent data from wastewater sampling, levels of COVID-19 measured on the North Shore rose slightly from early January, although levels of virus being shed in sewage water were still not as high as they were over the Christmas period. Levels of the virus in most other Lower Mainland plants had declined as of Jan. 16.
Numbers of people vaccinated haven’t changed much on the North Shore. Between 92 and 95 per cent of adults 18 and over received at least two doses of the vaccine. But those numbers fell with each subsequent booster shot. Only 47 per cent of adults on the North Shore have received two boosters. There is also a relatively small uptake for children. Between 52 and 64 per cent of children age five to 11 have received two doses of vaccine, while under 20 per cent of the youngest children have received two doses.
Monday marks the third anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 as a global public health emergency.
On Friday, a committee of WHO voted on whether to maintain that designation. A final decision will be announced on Monday, but it isn’t expected to change anything in practical terms in Canada.
More than 1,000 New Brunswickers report adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines – CBC.ca
Cat Suit Mario, Donkey Kong Make An Appearance In New Super Mario Bros. Movie Teaser – Game Informer
BlackburnNews.com – Outbreak declared at local hospital – BlackburnNews.com
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