Three dead from influenza in Alberta as case numbers rise

Three people have died after contracting influenza, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS) data. 

As of April 30, the province had reported 1,023 cases of the flu and 133 hospitalizations. Calgary has recorded 326 cases, up from just over 200 cases on April 17th.

Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious diseases physician and medical microbiologist at Cumming school of medicine, said that while this number of deaths is not atypical, flu season is occurring later than normal this year. 

“To have [over] 100 people hospitalized with influenza during an outbreak is not really out of keeping with what we normally experience,” said Gregson. 

“This [peak] is later than usual, but it’s probably related to the fact that we’ve not had influenza in the last couple of years and we’ve now removed some [non-medical] measures that prevent transmission.” 

The current outbreak is likely due to a combination of lifted COVID-19 restrictions, such as mask mandates, and a lower uptake of flu immunizations last fall, said Gregson.

Dr. Eddy Lang, clinical department head for emergency medicine for the Calgary zone with AHS, said recently that it’s hard to know for sure how many flu cases there are across the province. 

“There are many, many more people out there who probably do have the flu,” Lang told CBC Calgary News at 6 late last month.

“They just haven’t tested for it.”

Gregson said that while current influenza numbers are no reason for concern, the best way individuals can protect themselves is by getting the annual flu shot. 

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