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Influenza has arrived in area

Flu shots are the best defence against influenza. METROCREATIVE

Flu shots are the best defence against influenza. METROCREATIVE

SIMCOE  - 

It was only a matter of time before influenza officially arrived in the area.

Three confirmed flu cases have been reported in the Haldimand Norfolk area, the health unit said in a news release on Tuesday.

One case was influenza A while the other two were influenza B. Type A is the more infectious of the two, said the release.

“Sporadic influenza activity has been reported in other regions in Ontario. However, these are the first confirmed cases of influenza in Haldimand and Norfolk,” Stacey Guthrie, an infection control professional at the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit, said in a media release.

Health unit officials would not say in which county the cases were located, citing privacy reasons.

Flu spreads through contact with an infected person, in particular sneezing and coughing, and through contact with surfaces (toys, door knobs) the person has recently touched.

Norfolk General Hospital has advised the public to step up the hand washing now that flu season has arrived.

“Hand washing is the simplest and most effective way to prevent the spread of disease,” Dr. John Rosati, head of the emergency department at NGH, says in a news release.

“Thirty seconds with soap and water or hand sanitizer can make a difference. Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hand. Above all else – get the shot.”

Indications out of Australia – which just wrapped up its flu season -- suggest this year’s vaccine will be about 10 per cent effective. Still, medical officials say some protection is better than none.

Those at highest risk of influenza include the elderly, children under five, pregnant women, aboriginals, those with asthma, the obese and those with serious respiratory, cardiac and medical illnesses.

Immunization can take two weeks to become fully effective, so the sooner the needle is administered the more protection it will afford. Flu vaccines are available at medical clinics and at most pharmacies.

As for NGH itself, many patients recuperating there will be extra vulnerable to the flu and other air-borne illnesses. The hospital asks visitors to take advantage of the alcohol-based hand sanitizing stations at all entrances on the way in and on the way out.

As well, NGH asks anyone who wishes to visit patients at the hospital to schedule another time if they themselves are feeling under the weather.