Event Update: The Middlesex-London Health Unit reports that several viruses are currently circulating in the community, including influenza and norovirus. Symptoms of influenza include sudden onset of fever, cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and sore throat. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
Influenza: According to a media report, as of Monday, ▲409 lab-confirmed influenza A cases and three influenza B cases have been reported in Middlesex-London for the season. There have been 205 hospitalizations and 19 deaths.
For the third straight week, the number of positive tests for influenza in the province has declined, says Public Health Ontario.
In the London area, there were 13 new laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases reported between Jan. 22 and end of day Monday. No influenza B cases were reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
There were five hospitalizations reported among the newly reported cases, as well as an additional hospitalization from a previous case. Two deaths were reported among the new cases, one from a previously confirmed case. The health unit says the number of hospitalizations and deaths may be incomplete due to the large volume of cases to follow up.
One new influenza A outbreak was declared last week in a long-term care home, bringing the total to 35 outbreaks this season.
Norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, is not reportable to the Health Unit. However, the Health Unit has been receiving reports of norovirus-like illness, particularly from schools, child care centres and health care facilities.
"Events where people are in close contact can provide the kind of environment where these viruses can be transmitted,” says Dr. Bryna Warshawsky, Acting Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “As these viruses can spread in settings such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, long-term care facilities, child care centres and social gatherings, we’re asking people to stay home if they are sick” (see Recommended Action below).
Individuals of any age can get influenza, however the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, children less than five years of age, pregnant women, aboriginal people and those who are obese, are at higher risk of developing complications associated with the flu, such as pneumonia that could lead to hospitalizations, and could be fatal. See Hazard tab for details.
To prevent further spread of these viruses, the Health Unit is reminding those who are ill to take the following steps:
• Get vaccinated against influenza – it is not too late to get your flu shot.
• Stay home if you are sick. Individuals who work as food handlers, health care providers or child care workers should stay at home until at least 48 hours have passed from their last episode of diarrhea or vomiting.
• Clean hands frequently using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain 70-90% alcohol. Hands should be cleaned after using the washroom, after changing diapers, after shaking hands and before preparing and eating food.
• If you have diarrhea or vomiting, do not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after the last episode.
• Clean frequently-touched surfaces often. When cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, thoroughly clean the area with detergent and water, removing all debris, then disinfect with a 1:50 bleach solution if the object being cleaned will tolerate it. Discard or wash all clean-up materials then wash hands thoroughly.
For advice on managing seasonal illnesses, consult your health care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
A complete list of the Health Unit’s Community Influenza Vaccination Clinics is available at: http://www.healthunit.com/article.aspx?ID=18400.