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Child is area’s first influenza case of the season

SIMCOE, ON, JAN. 8, 2008 – A child who did not receive the flu shot is the area’s first reported seasonal case of influenza.

“We have received notification of one laboratory confirmed case of influenza A from a school-aged child residing in Haldimand County,” said Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit Communicable Disease Program Coordinator Shuayb Abidi.

“The child had not received a flu shot and we want to remind people that it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the socially responsible thing to do. You help to protect your friends and loved ones, as well as yourself, because the disease is very contagious.”

It takes two weeks before you get maximum protection from the flu shot, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better, Abidi said. Free flu shots are available through doctors or by contacting the Health Unit at 519-426-6170.

The Health Unit is also cautioning people who may develop flu symptoms to avoid coming into contact with other people, especially those in hospitals and homes for the aged where people’s immune systems may be compromised.

“If you have the flu, stay home,” Abidi said. “Too many people feel obliged to tough it out by going into work. You’re not doing your boss or anyone else a favour by bringing your virus into the workplace and infecting other people.”

Influenza spreads from an infected person through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread from surfaces such as toys and door knobs that an infected person has recently touched. The influenza virus can live for several hours on hard surfaces, so regular hand-washing is the best preventative measure after the flu shot itself. In addition, people can look after their health by eating well, being physically active and getting enough rest.

People of any age can get influenza. The ailment usually lasts two to seven days, but can go on for longer, particularly in the elderly and in people with chronic diseases.

Typical symptoms of the flu include headache, fever of between 38.8 and 40 Celsius degrees (102 and 104 Fahrenheit degrees), general aches and pains that can be severe, fatigue or weakness, and extreme exhaustion. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may accompany the flu, especially in children, but these are less common symptoms. In some cases, victims may suffer from a sore throat or cough. Complications from the flu virus include bronchitis and pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

Sporadic influenza activity has also been detected in other regions in Ontario.

Media contact:
Abidi Shuayb, Program Coordinator
Communicable Disease Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170, Ext. 3234 or 905-318-6623, Ext. 3234.