Are we facing a ‘flunami’? -

Are we facing a ‘flunami’?

The flu in Canada seems to be peaking


According to doctors, Central Canada is likely at the peak of a flu season, which started earlier than normal and is causing more severe disease in the elderly. Last year, the H1N1 strain affected younger Canadians, but this year, it’s the H3N2 strain that is causing large outbreaks in nursing homes where residents are more likely to end up in hospital and intensive care. “We’ve seen really a burst of activity [around Toronto] that came between the holiday seasons, which has continued over the last two weeks,” said Dr. Don Low, medical director of Ontario’s public health laboratories. He added that Canada is probably hitting the peak of this new influenza season. This year, the number of confirmed flu cases in Ontario is six times higher than the average for early January, according to the province’s health ministry. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch map up to Jan. 8 showed widespread activity in southeastern Quebec. “Although the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza increased slightly in week 01, the national rate appears to be approaching the peak,” the agency said Friday. Ontario’s Health Ministry is urging people who are especially vulnerable in particular — the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems — to get free flu shots.

CBC News

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Are we facing a ‘flunami’?

  1. "This year, the number of confirmed flu cases in Ontario is six times higher than the average for early January, according to the province's health ministry."
    The problem in comparing flu data from previous years is the factor of how much actual swab testing was done in any prior year to confirm the number of flu cases. Just because they are swab testing now and confirming flu cases, it doesn't mean this gives an accurate account of how many flu cases there were in previous years. It's not a fair comparison and it's a way of using numbers to push flu shots.

  2. The fear mongering brought on by health and government officials in the effort to promote flu shots, even for healthy people is ridiculous.. Influenza death rates in the United States substantially declined across the 20th century, in line with the simultaneous decline in the mortality burden from most infectious diseases, often referred to as the "epidemiological transition. In particular, influenza death rates dropped sharply around the end of World War II (1944–1945) a trend that is going to continue.

  3. Well Rachael, I hope you are working in an emergency department when the sick come in. In Alberta, we have only immunized 14% of the population with the flu vaccination when we are hoping to vaccinate 35%. We already at "catastropic collapse" in our emergency dept. We are expecting a "influenza tsumi" here in Alberta so save your bs. Maybe people won't die but we will be seeing a lot of ill people requiring hospitalization. Kindly enlighten us all as to how vaccination will more of a risk than the flu?

  4. Don't worry Healthcare Insider, it's just a bunch of propaganda to sell flu vaccines. The flu will come and go every year, just like always; nothing new here. Those in "the flu industry" are worried because people are not taking the shot. When this winter ends, people are going to find out, that the outcome surrounding the flu will be exactly the same as in previous years and that the vaccine makes little or no difference. How will they push those shots next year?

    "As may be expected given improvements in living conditions, nutrition and other public health measures, influenza death rates substantially declined across the 20th century. Doshi calculates an 18-fold decrease in influenza deaths between the 1940s and 1990s, a trend that began far before the introduction of widespread vaccination."….

    • Rachael, vaccination of the public began in the 1950s and has increased greatly, especially in the 1990s — corrolating with the decline you have cited. What you choose to ignore is that, along with vaccination, there has been mass education, which has itself helped lower mortality by increasing awareness of flu outbreaks, avoidance, early diagnosis and early treatment. Even absent a vaccination, a post-1950s population is less likely to suffer mass fatalities because of improvements in education and early detection and treatment. The decline you cite is not a natural phenomenon but rather the combined effect of better sanitation, education, awareness, early treatment AND vaccination.

  5. It is a shame, Racheal that you don't work in the front line in the hospital so you can turn away all the sick with the flu and tell them they aren't really sick.

  6. Oh, I believe they are sick, but it's the flu, a relatively benign illness in most people. Most healthy adults, healthy seniors, healthy pregnant woman and healthy children don't need the flu shot, but that's not what the flu industry wants us to believe. Dr. Neil Rau is an Infectious Diseases Specialist and Medical Microbiologist based in Ontario and a Lecturer in the Department of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) at the University of Toronto said that "this year is shaping up to be "no worse than 2008" and many of the flu cases have centered around a small area of Toronto.

    • You fundamentally misstate the purpose of vaccination. Vaccination is not PRIMARILY intended to protect the individual — hence there's no guarantee that you won't get the flu if you've had a flu shot. Rather, vaccination reduces the chances that an infected individual will pass the virus on to OTHERS. While getting a vaccine reduces your chance of infection and helps limit the severity of illness if infected, the primary purpose is to limit the spread of the virus to others. That's why healthy people do indeed need to get a flu shot, so they don't infect someone else — especially someone with a weakened respiratory or immune system.

      • Amateur Hour – nice handle! There are indisputable benefits to population-based healthcare interventions like vaccination programs and it's a mistake to narrow the scope of their impact. When vaccinations are recommended to individuals each person has an opportunity to accept or refuse. Where Rachael is fear-mongering it's likely a reaction to state-controlled enforcement of selected vaccinations. I think we all agree that whooping cough and rubella vaccines that are mandatory for children whose parents want them to attend public school are a good idea! Yet parents who are intent on non-vaccination can circumvent the laws quite easily. When it comes to a new vaccinations like Gardisil we need all hands on deck to challenge the State before a population-based intervention takes hold so in this sense,Rachael's politicization of vaccination is valuable and representative of a genuine rights-based concern. Yet Rachael's arguments against old folks getting vaccinated who are prone to secondary bacterial infections from which they could die! those arguments just don't hold water… In this age when antibiotic resistant strains of bacterium are quickly moving from hospital containment to community-based status we truly can't thumb our noses at vaccinations that help prevent secondary bacterial infection from viral infections. Can we?

        • Karen: I still would not recommend flu vaccinations for ALL elderly people. If you are immune compromised have diabetes, cancer, smoke, drink, are obese, then well yes. One size does not fit all. My 94 year old grandfather who is as fit as a fiddle has never had a flu shot. I would never dream of telling him to start experimenting with flu shots, now.

          And is it an antibiotic resistant bacteria, or is it just the person with the weak immune system that can't fight off the secondary bacterial infection, that we need to worry about? Why under the exact same conditions of exposure to germs do some people get sick and others don't? Some people have naturally resilient immune systems and a powerful ability to combat invaders. Since we are not all immune compromised, it is important to remember, that it is the individual health of the person, that ultimately decides whether a person will become seriously ill from any infection or virus.

          We are not all carbon copies of each other, but individuals who react differently to different medications, including vaccines and "present' differently with different illnesses. Vaccines aren't as safe and effective for everyone as claimed and we have to start looking at people as individuals.

    • Rachael, "no worse than 2008" is still pretty bad. Cherry picking information and presenting it out of context is a poor substitute for a reasoned argument. To wit:

      Public Health Agency of Canada
      Seasonal Influenza Totals in Canada (as of February 6, 2010):

      * increased cases due to pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus

    • (Reformatted)

      Rachael, "no worse than 2008" is still pretty bad. Cherry picking information and presenting it out of context is a poor substitute for a reasoned argument. To wit:

      Public Health Agency of Canada
      Seasonal Influenza Totals in Canada (as of February 6, 2010):

      2005-2006 7422
      2006-2007 8133
      2007-2008 12256
      2008-2009* 23376
      2009-2010* 38980

      * increased cases due to pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus

  7. Vaccine recipients need to be informed of the limitations and risks of the vaccine and alternatives to vaccination. In addition they need to know of the possibility that increased vaccinations may increase the risk of adverse effects.

    Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Vol 11 Number 3 Fall 2006

  8. It's been in the works for a long time, that is how to promote flu vaccines for healthy people who don't really need them. With flu propaganda increasing, I think this is a good time post the CDC's 7 step recipe for generating interest and demand for the flu vaccine.

    Daily newspaper reports should contain:
    New Message – Outbreak/Disease Widespread
    New Message – Could be a bad/serious flu season
    New Message – Vaccine does not have the same viral strain as circulating flu virus
    New Message – Child death reported from flu
    New Message – Adult/elderly death reported from flu

  9. Sounds like the title of a Colbert Report piece…

  10. I have read, listened and witnessed an extraordinary amount of information for several years, from both 'sides', regarding the flu vaccine. The "anti-vaccine" side of the debate always states that the need for vaccines is nothing but propaganda in order to sell and unnecessary product. So, what I am continually left with is this one question. What kind of mindset is it that believes the WHO, the CDC, the educated and licensed medical/ health care practitioners, labs and researchers and every single member of the pharmaceutical arena compromise their education, scientific studies, morals and their own families' health simply to support an unnecessary and 'dangerous' product?

    • Money, greed and not jeopardizing their own careers! Did you see what they did to Dr Andrew Wakefield? Anyone who questions vaccine safety will be vilified. A good example of this greed is the Gardasil vaccine. "Merck sold $1.4 billion worth of Gardasil the first year it was available. This is the same company that promoted Vioxx while withholding data from the public that showed cardiac deaths. Side effects of the vaccine? We have been continually reassured that they are not significant. But the Indian government recently stopped all trials of Gardasil after four young girls died and 120 developed significant apparent side effects early in a clinical trial." The more people they can get worldwide to take any vaccine, the more money is made. So, they certainly don't want anyone to think that some people can suffer serious consequences from vaccines, even though they do.

      • Dr. Wakefield did not merely question the safety of vaccine, he falsified medical records and recruited patients unethically and his so-called research has been discredited repeatedly by reputable unquestionable sources. As for Gardasil, while my doctor always strongly recommends I receive the flu vaccine, he does not do the same regarding Gardasil for my young adult daughter. He is cautionary and does believe all the long term results are in regarding this vaccine at this point. It is this discerning nature of his that has earned him greats respect in our city from patients as well as his peers. To paint the entire health care industry with the stroke of a money and greed brush is narrow-sighted and perpetuates fear-mongering instead of education. All vaccines are not evil nor are those who support them. They are the reason measles, mumps, rubella and polio are no longer the widespread, life-threatening diseases they once were.

        • Wakefield, Murch and Walker-Smith never said that MMR causes all autism or that MMR is solely responsible for the rise in autism.
          Selective Hearing, Brian Deer and the GMC, Dr Andrew Wakefield Autism MMR Film

          "The British General Medical Council and Brian Deer have conspired to make an example of Wakefield for daring to suggest that vaccination may cause disease in some individuals.

          Wakefield's identification of gastrointestinal inflammation in autism will remain an important scientific contribution. The magnitude of the effort to discredit him betrays a strong fear that his suggestion of a link to vaccination may be correct. It amounts to a public pillorying that frightens others from investigating this controversial but important issue."

          I am not an anti-vaxxer, what I am about is vaccine safety/efficacy and not treating everyone the same, because we are not all the same. I worry about the side effects and long term consequences of too many vaccinations on some susceptible individuals. Could it be be that some people don't need the same dosage or as many vaccines to acquire immunity because of our own personal genetic makeup? Perhaps, the way to go would be to test blood titers to see if a child has acquired immunity. One size does not fit all and many people have been injured by vaccines.

          • Wondering: So, it's alright in your mind to disapprove of the Gardasil vaccine because your doctor does, but your doctor likes the flu shot, so you do too. Read some of these studies regarding influenza vaccination.

          • Re Wakefield. The very fact that he falsified information discredits his work and puts everything he has done under suspect. Perhaps some of his work is valuable and legitimate but, by choosing to try and support it with unethical practices, he hurt himself, others and progress in this area.
            As I stated before, I have done a considerable amount of learning, listening, reading and seeing first hand the pros and cons of vaccines. I also have found a doctor who is in line with my philosopy regarding health care and is willing to discuss choices in it's various areas. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. His role is to advise me and my family in the area of his expertise, my role is to weigh his advice against my own knowledge and then make the choice I feel is best for myself. Note that I shared his advice but not the following actions chosen by myself or my daughter.

          • Wondering said: As I stated before, I have done a considerable amount of learning, listening, reading and seeing first hand the pros and cons of vaccines.
            And so have I, my conclusion one size does not fit all. I hope you will take time to look at the Wakefield, Deerfield video. It is an hour long, but well worth the watch.

            Peer reviewed papers report studies support findings: