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Health Unit reports first influenza cases

SIMCOE, ON, JAN. 23, 2009 -The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has reported its first influenza cases of the season.

“We recently received notification of one laboratory-confirmed case of influenza A obtained from a resident of Haldimand County, and two laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza B, one from Haldimand County and one from Norfolk County,” reported the Health Unit’s Communicable Disease Program Coordinator Cathy Lanni.

The flu has officially arrived and people who have not been vaccinated should contact their family doctor or the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3220 to arrange for a free flu shot.

“It takes two weeks before you get maximum protection from the flu shot, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better,” Lanni pointed out.

Sporadic influenza activity has been detected in other regions in Ontario. However, these are the first confirmed cases of influenza A or B in Haldimand and Norfolk.

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 along with the flu shot. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also an excellent method for cleaning hands that are not visibly soiled. 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 sometimes accompany the flu, especially in children.

Complications from the flu virus include bronchitis and pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.
People who do catch the flu should stay home, Lanni emphasized.

“You’re not doing your company or anyone else a favour by bringing your virus into the workplace and infecting other people,” she said. “It is especially important for ill people to avoid coming into contact with those in hospitals and homes for the aged where residents’ immune systems may be compromised.”

Media contact:
Cathy Lanni, Program Coordinator
Communicable Disease Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170, Ext. 3205 or 905-318-6623, Ext. 3205