Several residents test positive for Influenza A, leading to outbreak
Interior Health continues to monitor an outbreak of Influenza A at McKinney Place Extended Care in Oliver.
Medical health officer Dr. Peter Barss said an outbreak was declared recently when it was discovered that eight residents had a respiratory illness.
Staff took six swabs, in which five came back positive for Influenza A. The residents were subsequently given anti-viral drugs.
Barss said staff dealt with the outbreak by following protocols, such as not admitting any new patients, and restricting movement within the facility.
Barss said this is a peak time of year for influenza, noting there are respiratory outbreaks in other similar facilities in the region. Sometimes it only takes two people with symptoms to warrant an outbreak order, he pointed out.
When an outbreak is declared, staff wait eight days (from the time the last person is sick) before the order is lifted. At McKinney Place, someone else reported sick on January 15, so they have to wait until January 23 before they can declare the outbreak over, Barss said.
The medical officer noted that declaring an outbreak is fairly common this time of year. In fact, the number of influenza cases in BC this year are higher than average. Last week there were approximately 120 positive cases in Interior Health, Barss said. He recalled there were more than 800 cases reported in the region in 2009.
The doctor said their main focus is to ensure that people are immunized against influenza, noting the vaccine protects at least half of the people who get the shot. He stated people who have respiratory or heart problems should be immunized.
“If anyone is sick they should stay home,” he advised.
In addition, people should wash their hands frequently and avoid touching door knobs with bare skin. He admitted that every time he exits a public washroom, he uses a paper towel to open the door.