Many people in Thunder Bay report they’ve had a cold or flu-like symptom in the last few weeks or know someone who has been afflicted with a virus that isn’t COVID-19.
This year’s unique is that residents have been catching these pests later than usual.
Karen Battigelli, interim manager of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s infectious diseases program, says that while determining prevalence can be difficult, “there are techniques that we can use to identify current cold and flu activity.”
Battigelli noted in an interview that the weekly respiratory pathogen bulletins and “viral respiratory mappers” published by Public Health Ontario could be used to track visits to hospital emergency rooms by persons with respiratory problems over time.
“When someone goes to the emergency room, their diagnosis is recorded, and it is sent into a surveillance system that records it as a respiratory problem,” she explained.
These visits could be connected to COVID-19, the common cold, the flu, or other disorders, according to Battigelli.
Karen Data Shows The Peak of Cold & Flu Season
According to her, data shows that the cold and flu season has arrived “a little later than we’re used to seeing. Many of us know a lot of individuals who are sick with colds right now but not necessarily with influenza. We don’t know the present prevalence of the common cold since it isn’t reportable to public health, and influenza testing has minimal reporting criteria.”
The flu season typically lasts from late fall through early spring, according to the health ministry.
According to the Public Health Ontario respiratory pathogen report, documented flu activity in the Thunder Bay area was only “some” toward the end of 2021 and over the holiday season.
Problem With Respiratory System
More recently, in early April, there was an increase in respiratory difficulties, reaching a high frequency in late May.
Dr. Bradley Jacobson, chief of staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, said there had been an increase in visits to the emergency department by people with upper respiratory tract infections, with the majority of patients being infants or toddlers, as reported by TBnewsWATCH.
The decreased use of COVID-19 masks, according to Jacobson, may be leading to the spread of other viruses in the population.