Flu outbreak hits city early

Jan 09, 2013

Get your flu shot, officials urge

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

If you're currently huddled under blankets, trying to endure the aches, chills, fatigue and cough associated with the influenza, you're not alone.

There's currently an outbreak of influenza in the district, according to the Sudbury and District Health Unit.

“We generally have a fairly vigorous flu activity when the flu hits our community,” said Lisa Schell, the health unit's manager of clinical services.

“The one thing that is a little bit different this year is it has hit us a little bit earlier. Normally we start to see cases towards the end of January through March.

“However, this year our first confirmed case was at the end of November. So we have seen cases across the district increase since the holidays.”

There's also been outbreaks at several long-term care facilities in the district — Pioneer Manor, Elizabeth Centre, Finlandia and Extendicare York in Greater Sudbury and Centennial Manor on Manitoulin Island.

The influenza is especially dangerous for those in long-term care facilities, as frail, elderly people tend to have weaker immune systems, as do the very young and those who are medically compromised, Schell said.

Swab tests have confirmed the bug is a strain of influenza A, which is included in this year's flu shot. She encourages those who haven't yet received their flu shot to do so.

“It's not too late,” Schell said.

Free flu shots are available at the health unit's main office, located at 1300 Paris St., Sudbury or by visiting participating walk-in clinics, community health centres, or your health care provider.

“Basically further prevention would be washing your hands with liquid soap and running water,” Schell said.

“Avoid touching your face, wash your hands before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, and just regular hand-washing is encouraged.

“If you're not well, stay home. If you're going to be coughing, cough into your sleeve ... If you do blow your nose with a tissue, wash your hands vigorously afterwards.”

Dr. Chris Bourdon, Health Sciences North's chief of staff, who is also an emergency room physician, said the first line of defence against the flu is plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and minimizing your contact with other people.

“If your symptoms worsen, visit your doctor’s office or a community clinic. If you feel your case of the flu is of an urgent nature, the Emergency Department is here to help you,” he said, in a press release.

For more information about caring for someone who has influenza, please visit www.sdhu.com.

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