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FIRST FLU CASES OF SEASON

- Local Residents Encouraged to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season By Protecting Themselves Against Influenza -

With the first cases of influenza confirmed in the region, local health officials are asking people to take precautions to avoid bringing flu home for the holidays.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is reporting the first three lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the 2013-14 flu season in its area, which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.

The three influenza cases, all confirmed by lab results received Thursday (December 12), were detected in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The three cases are all adults, none of whom received a flu shot this year. According to information received by the Health Unit, all three individuals are recovering from their illness.

“Flu season is officially here, so we encourage local residents to take precautions and protect themselves and their loved ones from becoming sick,” says Linda McCarey, the Director of Communicable Disease Control with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Reducing the risk of becoming sick from influenza is especially important at this time of year when we come together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.”

She notes the confirmation of influenza is no surprise. “Typically we see influenza cases around this time of year, and we expect to see more cases in the coming days and weeks,” McCarey says. “While these are the first flu cases in the area, there have also been influenza cases and outbreaks confirmed throughout the province this flu season.”

Through the end of November, there have been 126 lab-confirmed influenza cases reported in Ontario, according to Public Health Ontario. In a given year, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care estimates seasonal influenza can result in up to 1,000 hospitalizations and up to 1,600 deaths in the province.

Influenza virus spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People can become infected by touching objects or surfaces with flu viruses on them and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and extreme weakness and fatigue.

The best way to prevent becoming ill with the flu is to get the flu shot every year, McCarey says. While the Health Unit’s community clinics are now over, there are other ways for local residents to get a free flu shot. People can check with their health care provider about getting a flu shot for anyone six months of age and older. Many pharmacies in the area are also providing flu shots to everyone five years of age and older.

Click HERE for a list of area pharmacies approved to provide the flu shot.

To further stop the spread of flu, the Health Unit recommends people wash their hands thoroughly and often, sneeze and cough into their sleeves, and stay home from work and holiday parties if they are sick. Eating well, getting sufficient sleep and being physically active on a regular basis also helps keep the body’s immune system strong.

“Don’t spread the flu this holiday season,” McCarey says. “That is one gift your family and friends definitely do not want to receive.”

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For media inquiries, contact:

Linda McCarey, Director of Communicable Disease Control, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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