BRANT COUNTY-Flu cases are on the rise and the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) is urging residents to get a flu shot and to wear a mask if you’ve got a respiratory illness.
The health unit released a statement on November 16 saying it received a “significant” number of positive lab results of influenza (flu) this flu season – which has barely begun.
“The flu shot is safe and the best protection against the flu,” Dr. Rebecca Comley, Acting Medical Officer of Health at BCHU said. “I would encourage all those over six months-of-age to receive their flu shot as soon as possible. As the Province forecasts this flu season to continue to be difficult, the flu shot is especially recommended for residents considered part of at-risk groups.”
Between October 3 and November 6 BCHU was notified of 50 lab confirmed cases of the flu from residents in Brantford and County of Brant
“By comparison, during the same period of the 2019/20 flu season, there were no confirmed flu cases in Brant residents. The 2019/20 flu season was the most recent where masks or face coverings were not widely in use,” the statement said.
Influenza is a virus that affects the lungs and can cause serious illness, especially in young children and the elderly. The Spanish Flu was an unknown form of influenza and hit Canada between 1918 and 1920.
This international pandemic killed approximately 50,000 people in Canada, most of whom were young adults between the ages of 20 and 40.
“It is not the common cold. The flu is easily spread through the air by coughing, sneezing and/or talking, or by touching contaminated surfaces/objects (phones, doorknobs, tablets, etc.),” the statement said.
Individuals at high risk of flu-related complications or who are more likely to require hospitalization include: Indigenous people, pregnant individuals, people over the age of 65, all children aged six months to four years and those that live in nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.
Adults and children six months of age and over who suffer from chronic health conditions are also at a greater risk for severe illness. Those conditions include cardiac and pulmonary disorders, diabetes mellitis or other metabolic disease, cancer, conditions causing immunocompromised, renal disease, anemia or hemoglobinopathy, neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions and morbid obesity.
Children and adolescents (six months to 18 years) undergoing treatment with acetylsalicylic acid for long periods are also more susceptible.
The flu shot is now available at local pharmacies or health care providers. BCHU will also be holding flu clinics throughout November. Appointments are available at the BCHU website.
The BCHU is asking those experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness to “Stay at home until you do not have a fever and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).”
They are also asking people to wear a well-fitted mask in public spaces, not to visit persons in hospitals, retirement/long-term care homes, or people who may be at higher risk of illness like seniors and immunocompromised people.
“Seek medical attention for severe or worsening symptoms, or if in a high-risk group,” the statement said.