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Responding to swine flu concerns – Health Unit increases influenza surveillance

SIMCOE, ON, APRIL 28, 2009 – There are no confirmed cases of swine flu locally, but the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has ramped up its influenza surveillance in response to the outbreak.

“Like all Health Units in Ontario, we are now in a state of heightened alert in response to the appearance of swine flu in several countries,” said Communicable Disease Program Coordinator Cathy Lanni.

Cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Mexico, the United States and other countries, including Canada. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced today four confirmed cases in Ontario, all of which involved travel to Mexico. The cases are considered mild and the individuals are recovering at home.

“In light of the current situation, we are increasing our surveillance activities of all influenza-like illnesses,” Lanni said. “We are working closely with other public health agencies, including areas doctors and hospitals to ensure they are aware of the situation and to request they report any suspect cases to the Health Unit.”

The Health Unit is also urging people who have recently travelled to any of the affected areas who may be experiencing influenza-like illness to contact a doctor and be sure to mention their recent travel. Alternatively, you may contact TeleHealth Ontario for assistance at 1-866-797-0000.

“It is important if you see a doctor to call in advance and not simply drop in,” Lanni explained. “This allows the doctor to prepare his waiting room because we don’t want to spread the disease to other patients. For the same reason, we urge people not to drop into the emergency room of the hospitals.”

People should take the same precautions against swine flu that they would normally take for seasonal flu.

“Hand-washing continues be one of the most effective preventative actions people can take to avoid the flu,” Lanni pointed out. “Also, if you’re sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.”

For general information on swine flu, contact ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-800-476-9708.

Media contact: Robert Roth, Communications Coordinator, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit,
519-426-6170 Ext. 3259 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3259, [email protected]