Seniors and toddlers most vulnerable to still-circulating respiratory illnesses

Regina resident Angela Eddy is extra cautious of the respiratory illnesses still circulating in the province, especially for people her age. Eddy is 69 and has noticed many friends and family members getting ill.

“My friend, Gwen, thought she was dying and her daughter did die,” said Eddy.

“Another lady I knew died from multiple organ failures as a result of the flu.

“She wasn’t even 70.”

Currently the province has high numbers of the flu, human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, according to a recent Sask. bi-weekly Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) report.

“Last week she couldn’t get enough air, she couldn’t breathe for more than one day,” Eddy said about another friend, Susan, who contracted the flu.

Based on the province’s CRISP reports, people 60 and older should remain cautious because they account for a majority of the deaths.

Graph from Jan. 1-14 CRISP report.

People 60-plus were the most admitted for COVID-19, influenza, RSV and other respiratory viruses, the report said.

“We are seeing a trend where the deaths are primarily in people who are elderly and frail,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, the provincial chief medical health officer in an interview with CTV.

“COVID-19 deaths are now resembling deaths due to other respiratory illnesses, like influenza,” said Dr. Shahab

The first numbers of the year show an increase of respiratory illnesses in Saskatchewan.

Eddy’s mother, who is 91, lives in Regina Pioneer Village. She has had her flu shot and Eddy is not specifically worried about her well-being at the home.

Victoria Chrispin is a registered care aid who previously worked at Regina Pioneer Village. Chrispin works in the hostel unit of Wascana Rehab.

“We are very aware of the viruses, “ said Chrispin.

Chrispin is overseeing two COVID-19 patients in her unit. She wants everyone to continue being cognizant of these illnesses and who is most vulnerable.

She urges all ages to get vaccinated and be aware of the symptoms.

“Everyone has had two booster shots and most residents have had their flu shots,” Chrispin said about residents in her unit.

Covid numbers have heightened and the ministry of health reported that the first 16 people who contracted the virus died within two weeks of having the illness in January.

The intensive care units were largely made up of the 60-plus age group.

In the first four weeks of the year in Saskatchewan, the respiratory syncytial virus cases have steadied.

The number of viruses such as RSV was also higher this year than last year in the CRISP report.

“We certainly are finding more RSV than we would in years prior to COVID-19,” said Shahab.

RSV is most dangerous for seniors and kids under four. Parents should remain cautious of RSV although the numbers are fairly average this year.

RSV does not have a vaccine. Viral testing for RSV has increased and therefore more detection has occurred in recent years.

Pictured above are Victoria Chrispin and other nurses within her unit. Photo courtesy of Victoria Chrispin. 


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