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Health Unit reports first lab confirmed Influenza case

SIMCOE, DECEMBER 23, 2010 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has reported its first influenza case of the season.

“We received notification of one laboratory confirmed case of Influenza A,” reported Health Unit’s Infection Control Practitioner Stacey Guthrie.

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 or 905-318-5367 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,” Guthrie pointed out.

Sporadic influenza activity has been reported in other regions in Ontario. However, this is the first confirmed case of Influenza A 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; therefore regular hand hygiene is the best preventative measure along with cough etiquette and the flu shot. Alcohol based hand sanitizer is the preferred 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 aliment usually lasts two to seven days, but can go on for longer, particularly in the elderly and in people with chronic illnesses. Typically 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.

According to the December 2010 Ontario Burden of Infectious Disease Study report, seasonal influenza causes an estimated 272 deaths each year, as well as 621,151 illnesses requiring medical attention. Influenza has the greatest impact on older age groups, since deaths from influenza are largely among people aged 65 and older.

“Don’t bring the gift of Influenza to your colleagues, family or anyone else while you are sick,” 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.”

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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