Flu deaths in New Brunswick jump to 4

The number of deaths associated with the flu in New Brunswick has jumped to four, says the province's chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Eilish Cleary made the announcement on Thursday.

"The flu is often seen as a minor illness but should not be underestimated," she said.

There have been more than 300 confirmed cases of seasonal influenza reported to public health, said Cleary. Fifty-one hospitalizations have been reported, including 15 admissions to intensive care units.

Earlier this week, Cleary announced influenza had claimed its first victim of the season.

Shawna McNally, a 43-year-old mother and grandmother in Fredericton, died at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital on Jan. 8 after her body, weakened from drug abuse years ago, couldn't battle the effects of H1N1.

There was also one patient in the intensive care unit with the flu and another in hospital in the Horizon Health Network region, Cleary had said.

Vitalité Health Network has not reported any severe cases, she said.

McNally's death sparked a demand for flu vaccinations across the province.

Many providers have run out, or are close to running out, but public health officials have said more supplies are expected within days.

The H1N1 strain is part of this year's flu vaccine.

Cleary is encouraging anyone who had not gotten the flu shot to get one.


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