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No new pediatric flu deaths in B.C. this week, BCCDC says

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said Thursday it had not documented any new influenza-related deaths among children and youth in the past week.

The statement, contained in a weekly “respiratory epidemiology summary” comes after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry pledged weekly updates on deaths among children and youth.

That promise followed revelations that four children and two teenagers had died of flu-related illness. Some of the deaths were believed to be caused by secondary bacterial infections, a possible flu complication.

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Thursday’s report says that for the week ending Dec. 10, influenza A was the most detected virus in B.C., returning positive results in 20 per cent of tests.

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The report also notes that RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) continues to circulate at higher rates than in a typical year, currently turning up in about nine per cent of tests, compared to a historical average of about five per cent.

Click to play video: 'Ask an Expert: Seniors and flu season'

Ask an Expert: Seniors and flu season

Among children tested at Vancouver laboratories, including BC Children’s Hospital, the North Shore and Richmond, influenza A and RSV both remain common, and despite decreases over the last two weeks, are both still showing up in about 28 per cent of tests.

“Both positivity and rate of growth of influenza have been higher this season compared to the five-year pre-pandemic historical average (2014/15- 2018/19),” the report states.

“By contrast, rate of growth and test positivity in the past week for RSV is comparable to historical ranges. SARS-CoV-2 positivity among children remains low (~4 per cent).”

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Read more:

B.C. flu vaccination rate for kids edges upward after weekend blitz, but most still not immunized

Visits to health-care practitioners for respiratory illnesses have finally begun to “stabilize at elevated levels” after increasing steadily since September, according to the report.

However, children continue to represent a disproportionate number of those visits.

In response to the deadly flu season, the province held what it called a vaccination “blitz” last weekend that saw the share of children with shots edge upward slightly.

However, as of Dec. 12, nearly three-quarters of children aged six months to four years old were not vaccinated.

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