Cornwall Ontario — The beginning of flu season in Canada has been marked by the return of the H1N1 influenza virus in various regions of the country, including western Canada, western Quebec and Ontario. Although there is low local sporadic flu activity in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) area, experts predict that more cases will appear after the return to school.
Unlike the typical flu strains, the H1N1 flu strain, which caused a global pandemic during the 2009-2010 flu season, tends to infect children under 5 years of age and adults born after 1957, particularly those with weak immune systems and chronic medical conditions.
“It is important for everyone, but especially for children under 5 years old and those born after 1957 to get vaccinated,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “This year’s flu shot is a good match against H1N1,” he adds, reminding those who have not yet received it that it’s not too late to get immunized. Persons who have previously been sick with H1N1 or who were immunized against it in 2009 may still have some protection, but are still encouraged to get this year’s flu shot.
The flu shot is available through your health care provider, some local pharmacies or by appointment at one of the EOHU’s offices. Besides protecting themselves, people who get the shot also reduce the risk of infecting their loved ones as well as vulnerable people around them.
Besides getting immunized, one of the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect vulnerable members of the public is to stay home when sick. Do not visit relatives in residences, long-term care facilities and hospitals if you are sick.
To help reduce the spread of flu, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cough or sneeze into your elbow.
For more information about the flu and how to prevent it from spreading, visit the EOHU’s website at www.eohu.ca or call 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120 and ask for Health Line.