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First Flu Case This Winter

- Local Residents Encouraged to Protect Themselves Against Influenza, As First Flu Case Confirmed in Region -

Influenza is officially here, and so is a reminder from the local Health Unit for people to protect themselves against the flu.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reports the first lab-confirmed case of influenza for the 2015-16 flu season in its area, which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County. The confirmation was received earlier this week.

“The finding is no surprise, as we typically see influenza activity increase at this time of year,” says Marianne Rock, the Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Now that the flu is circulating in our area, we encourage local residents to take precautions and protect themselves and their loved ones from becoming sick.”

The best way people can prevent becoming ill with the flu is to get the flu shot every year, Rock adds. 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 full list of local pharmacies offering flu shots.

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 school 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, Rock notes.

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.

Back in October 2015, the Health Unit received reports of two cases of influenza that were related to travel outside of Canada. This week’s lab-confirmed case of influenza is the first locally-acquired instance of the respiratory disease.

Across Ontario, there have been 188 influenza cases reported from September 1 to December 19, 2015, 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, 200,000 visits to doctors’ offices, and up to 300 deaths in the province.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-477, ext. 1486.

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