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Health Unit Reports First Lab Confirmed Influenza Outbreak in a Long Term Care Facility

SIMCOE, DECEMBER 22, 2014 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has reported its first influenza A institutional outbreak for the 2014-2015 influenza season.

People who have not received a flu shot should visit a pharmacy, contact their family doctor or call the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-5367 to arrange for a free flu shot.   Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by influenza viruses. For those who have been immunized but develop the flu, the symptoms will likely be less severe.  As well, the flu shot also protects against other “A” strains as well as H1N1 and influenza B strains that may circulate later this season.

It takes two weeks before you get maximum protection from the flu shot, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better.

Sporadic influenza activity has been reported in other regions in Ontario. However, there are no confirmed cases of influenza A in the general population of 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.

The Public Health Agency of Canada states that in the 2013-2014 season, there were 5,284 hospitalizations and 331 confirmed deaths from influenza.

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Media contact:
Infectious Disease Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623