“Respiratory illness” in northeast B.C. causing some to be transferred south for treatment

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health confirmed this afternoon that the “respiratory illness” that has hit northeast B.C. and Chetwynd extremely hard, has caused some to be transferred down south to be treated.

Dr. Raina Fumerton MD, MPH, FRCPC, Northwest Medical Health Officer, Acting North East Medical Health Officer with the Northern Health Authority said this afternoon that she can confirm some have been moved but can’t confirm how many. She did confirm some of them are children.

“Patient transfers to higher levels of care happen for a variety of reasons across the north. Patients have been transferred to hospitals down south that offer higher level of care due to severe respiratory illness and I can confirm that some of those are young children.”

It is unclear how many people have been hit with the virus in northeast B.C. but Northern Health says that this is normal for this time of year.

“We know that viruses spread more easily among young children, especially during peak season for these illnesses; and we understand the concerns around cases affecting children in the community, however, we would like to offer assurances that complications and death due to influenza and influenza-like illnesses are rare in children who have no underlying medical conditions. It may happen, but it is rare.”

Northern Health issued a press release last night stating that the Chetwynd Primary Care Clinic remains open, but is seeing an increase in visits due to this increase in respiratory illness in the community.  Residents of Chetwynd who wish to arrange a flu shot should call the Chetwynd Primary Care Clinic at 250-788-7300.  Local pharmacists will deliver vaccinations for clients over the age of 5.

Northern Health has released the following tips to help reduce your risk of getting the flu:

  • Get plenty of rest and fluids if you’re sick with influenza-like illness. Most people will recover on their own at home. Seek medical care if there is trouble breathing, pain in the chest or a high fever that does not get better after 3-4 days.
  • People at high risk of complications who experience influenza-like illness should seek medical care without delay. Their doctor may want to prescribe a drug that must be given early to be effective.
  • Staying home if you’re sick – You don’t want to spread the flu to your classmates, colleagues, or friends. Make sure to rest and get better before returning to work or school.
  • Practicing frequent and proper hand hygiene – Use alcohol based hand sanitizer regularly and make sure to wash your hands appropriately (wet your hands, scrub with soap for 20 seconds, rinse off your hands, dry your hands thoroughly, and use the paper towel to open and close the door).
  • Observing coughing and sneezing etiquette – Cough or sneeze into your shoulder, not onto your hand or in the air. Make sure to wash your hands after!
  • Get the flu shot – Protective effects from the flu shot occur approximately two weeks after receiving it. The BC Centre for Disease Control has noted the main kind of flu found this year is included in this year’s vaccine, meaning people will be better protected if they are vaccinated.