Tuesday, 04 August, 2020

Hamilton’s peak flu season is here, public health says

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Gustavo Carr | 14 February, 2020, 02:43

St. Peter's Health is reporting an average of 20 new cases of influenza in the county every day.

Connie DeBenedet, Hamilton's infectious diseases program manager, says the current infection rate as of February 10 sees 500 lab-confirmed influenza A cases - the more serious strain of the virus - and approximately 120 lab-confirmed influenza B cases, which is "typical" for any given year over the last decade.

Seventy-eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control so far during the 2019-2020 season.

"Definitely, we know that we are in the midst in that peak of influenza season". The period usually lasts from late fall to early spring.

Dr. Ingrid Chan, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, said elderly people typically have more chronic medical conditions so their immune system is weaker, which puts them at a greater risk of developing complications from the flu.

The Ohio Department of Health reported last week that there have been more than 4,400 hospitalizations due to flu in Ohio during the 2019-2020 flu season.

Health officials say the flu has been widespread in the Commonwealth since December 2019.

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Flu symptoms range from mild to severe, and can affect anyone at any age.

"Common side effects are local at the injection site like redness or swelling".

With over 40,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and seven cases in Canada as of early February, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), DeBenedet says what one would normally do to avoid the flu will likely also protect you from the feared coronavirus.

Other precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include staying home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly and frequently washing hands with soap and water.

"Seventy to 85 percent of flu-related deaths the past few years are in those 65 years and older, so it can be quite serious when it hits the older population", Chan noted.

Avoid contact with people who are sick and things they may have touched. Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.