Flu, norovirus circling Cowichan, region's top doc warns

Dr. Paul Hasselback, regional health officer, advises simple precautions to dodge flu and norovirus swirling around Cowichan. - Peter W. Rusland file
Dr. Paul Hasselback, regional health officer, advises simple precautions to dodge flu and norovirus swirling around Cowichan.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland file

Wash your hands, keep them away from your face, and avoid others who seem sick.

That's the flu- and bowel bug-ducking prescription from the island's medical health officer as Cowichan seems sandwiched between outbreaks of flu and norovirus.

While the valley's had no outbreaks of either virus, Dr. Paul Hasselback signalled Monday at press time news of either, or both, bugs arriving here wouldn't be surprising.

"Norovirus is on the south and north island," he said of the bowel bug causing vomiting and diarrhea, "and influenza is sporadic on the island, with one case reported in Nanaimo."

He corrected some recent press reports influenza carries stomach and intestinal upset.

"Flu is generally coughing, sore muscles, and a fever."

This year's flu shots cover the Victoria (H3N2) strain, plus Brisbane (influenza B), and the pandemic H1N1 strain.

"They're well covered by the vaccines," Hasselback said of the strains, often named by scientists after places in Australia.

But norovirus is a blacker bug.

"It tends to become widespread in a community," he said of the "aggressive" malady that's become "persistent in recent years."

"It's not infrequently found in schools, then spread back to families, and into workplaces."

CBC-TV has reported more than 3,500 confirmed cases of flu this year, and climbing.

Those numbers can be much higher as many folks haven't presented at hospitals or doctors' offices where the virus can be confirmed through lab results.





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