Event Update: According to media reports, a busy flu season in which the number of confirmed influenza cases more than doubled compared to last season, is winding down, according to a Region of Waterloo public health official.
Kristy Wright, manager of infectious disease, said there have been ▲362 confirmed cases thus far – more than the region has had in each of the last seven years, but fairly consistent with what was reported across the province.
A total of 12 fatalities were attributed to influenza as a direct cause or contributing factor in the Region of Waterloo this flu season.
The majority of confirmed flu cases were found to be influenza type A, which usually inflicts more severe illness, more hospitalizations and more complications, Wright explained.
Peak activity occurred in mid-December, and was followed by a sharp decline in the number of cases, Wright noted.
“Thus far in 2013 we’ve had very few cases in comparison to what we had at the end of 2012,” she said. “Certainly we’re seeing very little flu right now. Influenza activity is sporadic in our region, meaning very low numbers. We do tend to see sort of a case here and there over the off season, through the summer. It never really goes away, but it certainly seems provincially and locally that it has wound down to low activity now.”
Influenza immunization offers the best protection for persons six months of age and older and is available free of charge to all residents. Public Health encourages everyone, particularly those at highest risk of complications related to influenza (anyone with chronic health conditions, persons over 65 years of age, all children under five years of age, pregnant women, Aboriginal people) to be immunized.
To reduce the risk of developing Influenza:
• Get vaccinated – it’s still your best defense
• Wash hands frequently with soap and warm running water – especially before eating, preparing food and after blowing noses or using the washroom
• Use alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer (either gel or wipes) when soap and water are not available
Symptoms of Influenza include the sudden onset of fever (accompanied by chills), cough, sore throat and muscle or joint aches.
If a person experiences the symptoms of any respiratory illness they should:
• Stay home until the symptoms begin to lessen
• Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing
• If tissues are not available – cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow of clothing (the “Sleeve Sneeze”). The fabric helps to trap the droplets instead of having them sneezed or coughed into hands where they can be easily passed on to others or to surfaces
• Do not visit persons in hospitals or retirement/long term care homes