This year’s flu season has two strains of the virus with the predominant H1N1, also known as swine flu, proving deadly for children.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit from the week of December 30 to January 5, there have been 60 lab-confirmed cases of the flu reported in our region, which is up nearly half from the week prior.

“Our rates are steady,” says Jillian Fenik, Program Manager of the Infectious Diseases. “They are a bit lower than in previous years, but they are continuing to climb by the day.”

Officials say there have been 130 lab-confirmed cases so far this season across our region.  They say 40 percent of those cases are children under the age of 14, who haven’t built immunity to the virus.

“When H1N1 is the predominant strain, it does affect more of the younger population that the older population,” explains Fenik.

Across the country, more than 400 children have been hospitalized due to influenza complications.  At least 24 people, including four children in Saskatchewan, have died this year of the flu.

“I wouldn’t take those isolated cases to imply that there is something new going on here,” says Dr. Darren Usher.  “The flu is something the body is able to compensate for and typically will recover fully.”

Dr. Usher says the number of cases of influenza at Barrie’s RVH is very similar to what is typically seen at this time of year.

Health officials emphasize that this strain of flu is covered in the vaccine available at most clinics and pharmacies.