Flu Season Expected To Be Worse This Winter

Health officials in Windsor-Essex are bracing for what could be a nasty flu season.

The World Health Organization tracks the spread of influenza across the globe and bases its predictions on the Australian flu season. That's partly because the country is in the southern hemisphere and its flu season is half a year ahead of the season in North America.

Erika Vitale is Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Windsor Regional Hospital.

She says this past year has been a bad one in Australia.

"They peaked about a month early, so they peaked in July instead of August-September," explains Vitale. "They've seen the most confirmed cases of flu they've seen in the last five years as well as the most hospitalization they've seen in the last five years."

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Vitale says WHO tries to get the vaccine as closely lined up with the kind of flu strain that's predominant.

"Sometimes those predictions are really good and we have a good match for the vaccine and the strain that's circulating, sometimes they're not so good," says Vitale. "Worldwide, they do monitor flu in pretty much every country and reports flu data out in order for the World Health Organization to be on top of it."

Vitale says there are a number of things people can do to reduce their likelihood of getting the flu such as getting your flu shot, covering your cough or your sneeze and washing your hands often. If you're sick try to stay home from work or from school that prevents the spread to others.

Vitale says the strain that is most common in Australia is H3N2, which is what we had last flu season — but, she stresses that people should get a flu shot this year because the protection from last year's shot is no guarantee.