SIMCOE, FEBRUARY 17, 2012 – Health officials say the local influenza season has officially begun.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit received notification of its first lab-confirmed case of influenza, or the flu, and is reminding residents that the flu shot is their best source of protection against the highly contagious disease.
“Immunization is very effective at controlling the spread of influenza in the community,” said Stacey Guthrie, the Health Unit’s Infection Control Practitioner. “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.”
Although this is the first case reported to the Health Unit this season, influenza cases have been confirmed in other parts of the province. 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.
“A number of people in our area may have had the flu already this season, but we are only able to report the confirmed cases,” noted Guthrie.
Influenza is a disease of the respiratory tract. The flu virus causes the rapid onset of high fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle aches and pains. The most common symptoms usually include a runny nose and cough. Some people may also have mild stomach upset.
It can take up to three days after infection to develop symptoms, and then the virus is contagious for three to five days in adults and up to a week in children.
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 doing these things all the time, but people seem to become more conscious of the virus once we release the first confirmed case,” Guthrie added.
People who have not been vaccinated should contact their family doctor or call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-5367 to schedule an appointment to receive their free flu shot.
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Infection Control Practitioner
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3270 at either 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623