Flu Outbreak in Northwestern Saskatchewan Claims Three Lives

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Three people who died were hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms and had pre-existing medical conditions.

NITHA Reports Rising Influenza Cases and Urges Vaccination

In a concerning development in northwestern Saskatchewan, three individuals have died from influenza, as reported by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA). This flu outbreak has raised alarms due to the rapid increase in cases compared to the previous year and the early onset of these fatalities in the flu season.

The victims, ranging in age from their 30s to over 60 years, were all hospitalized with severe symptoms of influenza and had underlying medical conditions. These deaths occurred on First Nations in the region and involved influenza type A, according to NITHA.

Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, the medical health officer for NITHA, expressed deep concern over the situation. “Three deaths within the space of two months, quite early in the season, is very concerning,” Dr. Ndubuka told CTV News. He highlighted the challenges posed by inadequate housing and overcrowding, particularly on First Nations, which exacerbate the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Stages of flu from day 0 to day 8.Verywell / Emily Roberts

The increase in flu cases this year is significant, with NITHA data showing nearly double the number of influenza cases compared to last year. Since October, there have been 50 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, a notable rise from the 26 cases recorded during the same period in the previous year.

Dr. Ndubuka pointed out that transmission is occurring in schools and is spreading more rapidly in communities with overcrowded living conditions. “We see challenges around inadequate housing, and the risk of having increased transmission of respiratory illnesses within homes where you have overcrowding,” he explained.

In response to this outbreak, NITHA, which represents the Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is not only monitoring the situation but also actively promoting vaccination. Dr. Ndubuka strongly encourages community members to get vaccinated against both influenza and COVID-19 to protect themselves and their communities. “We strongly encourage community members to stay protected by taking these vaccines. That is only way that we can keep communities safe,” he urged.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus.

As the flu season continues, health authorities in Saskatchewan and across Canada are on high alert. The situation in northwestern Saskatchewan serves as a reminder of the importance of vaccination and public health measures, especially in vulnerable communities.

NITHA has not disclosed the specific locations of the deaths but remains committed to providing support and resources to the affected communities. The health authority continues to work closely with local leaders and healthcare providers to manage the outbreak and prevent further loss of life.

For more information on influenza and vaccination, residents can contact their local health providers or visit the NITHA website.