An Okanagan woman in her 50's has lost her life after battling the H1N1 Influenza Virus.
Dr. Rob Parker, Medical Health Officer with Interior Health says the lab results just came back and confirmed the death this morning.
He can confirm that the woman was from the Okanagan, that it is the first death in BC from H1N1 this season and that the woman was in her 50's.
It is unknown where exactly she lived or whether she had a pre-existing health condition that made her more susceptible to the disease.
Ten people have already lost their lives in Alberta because of this strain of H1N1 which had started causing problems in the interior region in recent weeks.
The virus also claimed the lives of six people in Saskatchewan.
Provincial medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall says medical officials still don't know whether one death in the Vancouver area may also be blamed on the flu.
This year's variety of flu is causing some unexpected concern as the groups seemingly most affected are young adults aged 20-55 and preschool aged children, both age groups which Dr. Parker say typically are not vaccinated.
“The H1N1 virus circulating this year seems to be affecting kids that were born after 2009 so the preschoolers who may not have seen the virus before or had a flu shot yet… and surprisingly in young adults who don't have any immunity to it,” says Dr. Parker.
He says the usual groups are always told to get the flu shot if they are high risk like seniors, the very young, or those with chronic health issues but at the end of the day he believes everyone should be getting their shot.
“It is good health insurance to consider getting it every year so you don't miss 10 days of work,” says Dr. Parker.
“It is a very safe vaccine, the only real complication is a sore arm for a day or two if you even get that.”
He says we have not reached the peak expected in the Interior Health region for noted cases of H1N1 and he worries we have many more cases coming.
“I think we will see more cases, we have had 35 cases so far to date across the Interior Health region and most of those have been within the last two weeks so I think we are going to be getting more than that in the coming week or two.”
At the end of the day Dr. Parker says his best advice is to get the shot, it is your best chance at avoiding the flu.
“It is everybody's choice at the end of the day but my best medical advice, the thing that is going to keep you safest, is to get the flu shot, that is your best chance. It is common sense, like putting on snow tires in the winter,” says Dr. Parker
If you have been affected by H1N1 please contact us at [email protected]