Protect yourself against the flu
Influenza cases on the rise, Region reports
|The best defence during flu season is to get the influenza vaccine.
BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, January 11, 2013
Winnipeggers are being reminded they can take action to guard against the flu this season amid reports of rising influenza activity throughout the city.
So far this season, there have been 42 confirmed cases of influenza, including 20 new reported cases since Monday of this week, according to surviellance data collected by the Winnipeg Heath Region.
In addition, the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms attributed to flu-like illnesses accounted for close to one-quarter of all visits for the week ending Jan. 10.
Dr. Bunmi Fatoye, Medical Officer of Health and Communicable Diseases Lead with the Winnipeg Health Region’s Population and Public Health program, says those numbers are expected to rise as the flu season progresses. “The numbers of people getting the flu are still going up, as the season has not yet peaked,” she says.
Fortunately, there are things people can do to protect themselves from a bout of the flu.
Fatoye says the best protection for everyone six months of age and older is to get the flu vaccine. “the virus in circulation currently matches the strains in the vaccine,” she says. “There still is good opportunity for those who haven’t had the vaccine to get their shot.”
Influenza vaccine is available from primary health care providers, such as family doctors and nurse practitioners, QuickCare Clinics or through public health offices by calling 204-956-SHOT.
The second best measure to reduce your risk is to wash your hands.
“Wash your hands as many times as possible,” says Fatoye.
The influenza virus is spread through tiny droplets in the air, usually when an infected person sneezes close to someone else. It can also spread when the droplets are transmitted from one person to another by physical contact – like shaking hands – or via a surface touched by the infected person, such as door handles and coffee pots.
“Once you touch a surface with the influenza virus, and then rub your eyes or touch your nose, the virus will transfer to you,” Fatoye says.
If you are already ill, stay away from public places and gatherings, and don’t go to work or school, to avoid spreading the virus to others.
“Places like personal care homes will put up notices asking you to stay away if you have symptoms,” says Fatoye.
To avoid spreading the flu virus, remember, to cover your cough by using a tissue, your sleeve or elbow. Avoid coughing into your hands.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, head and body aches, and runny nose. People at particular risk for flu and its complications are pregnant women,children under five years of age, those 65 and older and anyone with a chronic illness.
Fatoye says the best cure for the flu is to stay home and rest in bed. See “Shoot the flu” for more information on treating the symptoms of flu.
If you have more severe symptoms, call your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic, ACCESS Centre, QuickCare clinic or local health clinic for assessment and treatment. Call 204-956-SHOT for the phone number for a clinic near you in order to have a flu shot.