SIMCOE, ON, OCT. 21, 2009 – The number of cases of influenza are on the rise locally, says the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
“We’ve had reports from various sources of more flu cases occurring than we would normally expect at this time of year,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Malcolm Lock. “School absenteeism is higher than normal, which is a reflection of what is happening in the community generally. This is the same trend we are seeing throughout Ontario.”
The Health Unit is contending with two types of flu this year, the typical seasonal flu as well as the pandemic H1N1 flu.
“We expect the H1N1 flu to be the dominant flu this season, so we will be holding vaccination clinics for that strain first in the weeks to come,” Lock said. “We will announce dates and locations as soon as they are firmed up.”
The pandemic H1N1 virus circulated locally and throughout Ontario last season and it continued to persist during the summer months.
“We know pandemic H1N1 is here because we had some positive lab tests last season and, most recently, we had one lab-confirmed case of it in Haldimand,” Lock said. “We intend to do more lab testing to confirm our belief that H1N1 is the dominant strain now on the rise.”
All of Ontario’s health units will be holding H1N1 vaccination clinics after the vaccine is delivered shortly by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Clinic dates will vary by health unit, but are expected to range from late October into December.
“We’ll be announcing the dates of our clinics once we finalize locations,” Lock said. “Following the H1N1 clinics, vaccinations for the seasonal flu virus will be available.”
Currently, the Health Unit is holding seasonal flu vaccination clinics only for seniors, 65 and over, and all residents of long-term care homes. Dates and times are on the Health Unit website at www.hnhu.org.
“Generally, we want people to get the H1N1 vaccination first, and then the seasonal vaccination afterwards,” Lock explained. “We are reversing this process for seniors only because they suffer more from complications from seasonal flu and there is evidence they are less susceptible to the H1N1 virus due to immunity gained from a similar virus in their youth.”
The Health Unit is urging people to check its website regularly to keep up with the latest information on the flu.
Symptoms of the H1N1 virus are the same as seasonal flu and can include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. Typically, the symptoms disappear in three to five days.
People should take the same precautions they would take against any flu in order to protect themselves and others:
·Get your vaccination.
·Wash your hands frequently.
·Clean hard surfaces. Viruses can live on them for up to 48 hours.
·Sneeze into your sleeve.
·If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with loved ones.
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3259 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3259