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First Flu Case of the Season

With the first case of influenza confirmed in the region, the local health unit is reminding people of the importance of getting immunized against the flu.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is reporting the first lab-confirmed case of influenza for the 2014-15 flu season in its area, which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.

“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.”

People can still get their flu shot at one of two immunization clinics being held by the Health Unit: December 10 in Haliburton and December 16 in Port Hope. These clinics are by appointment only and people can call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 for more information or to book an appointment. People can also 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, and a list of participating pharmacies can be found on the Health Unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca.

Given that flu cases have been reported throughout the province, McCarey says this confirmed case is not a surprise. “Typically we see influenza cases around this time of year, and we expect to see more cases in the coming days and weeks,” she says. It’s also important to note that someone who is vaccinated may still become ill with influenza, but the vaccine will reduce the severity of the illness, McCarey says.

As of November 22, Public Health Ontario reports there have been 137 lab-confirmed influenza cases reported in 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.

Getting the flu shot every year continues to be the best way to protect yourself from the flu, McCarey says, and this year’s vaccines protect against the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses, and one or two influenza B strains.

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


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