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First confirmed case marks official start of flu season

SIMCOE, NOVEMBER 15, 2012 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit received notification of its first lab-confirmed case of influenza, or the flu, for the 2012/2013 season. Last flu season, the first confirmed case in Haldimand or Norfolk occurred in February.

Residents are being reminded that the flu shot is their best source of protection against the highly contagious disease.

“With this first lab-confirmed case of influenza, we now know that seasonal influenza is circulating in our area,” said Stacey Guthrie, the Health Unit’s Infection Control Practitioner. “Usually there are more cases of influenza in the community than are reported by the lab, so we strongly encourage residents to get their flu shot to protect themselves and others – it’s not too late.”

The annual flu vaccine contains strains of influenza type A and type B to protect against various circulating strains of influenza. Tests have revealed that the locally-confirmed case is influenza type B.

“Immunization is very effective at controlling the spread of influenza in the community,” added Guthrie. “However, it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full effectiveness, so it is important for people to get their flu shot as soon as possible.”

Those who were unable to attend the free community flu vaccine clinics held by the Health Unit in late October and early November are encouraged to contact their family doctor or local pharmacy to arrange a vaccination date. Residents can also schedule a free immunization appointment at the Health Unit’s Caledonia or Simcoe office locations by calling 905-318-5367 or 519-426-6170.

While the flu shot is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

“We should be practicing these measures all the time, especially during this time of year,” Guthrie added.

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Media contact:

Stacey Guthrie
Infection Control Practitioner
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3270 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
stacey.guthrie@hnhu.org