Health officials are calling British Columbia’s past flu season “exceptional,” in the sense that it never really happened.
In the final surveillance bulletin of the 2020-21 flu season, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says that there was “no sign of influenza virus circulation.”
“In summary, this influenza season was exceptional in not having actually really happened,” reads the surveillance report.
According to the bulletin, the BCCDC tested 75,000 clinical samples for influenza between September 27, 2020, and May 1, 2021. Of those samples, only 18 influenza viruses were detected in BC from 11 individuals.
Ten of these 11 people, however, had recently received a live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). The BCCDC suggests that this influenza originated from a flu vaccine that contained a modified virus, instead of being a genuine case of the flu.
“Detecting vaccine virus shortly after LAIV receipt is not unexpected,” the Centre notes. “The single non-LAIV influenza detection was linked to out-of-country travel (likely imported).”
The CDC usually finds thousands of flu cases during the same period. For the past five years, an average of 28,366 tests are conducted, with 5,605 cases of influenza detected.
There have been no flu outbreaks in long-term care homes recorded this season, either. This time last year, there were already 73 flu outbreaks in long-term care homes.