The Grey Bruce Health Unit has been notified of the first local, laboratory-confirmed case of influenza of the 2022-23 flu season and reminds residents to get their flu shot.

A Bruce County resident has tested positive for Influenza A, the highly contagious virus that circulates in Ontario in the fall and winter months.

The timing of this first positive case of the season indicates an earlier start to the flu season. The first case of the 2018-19 flu season was reported on Nov. 18, 2018, while the first case of the 2019-20 season was confirmed on Nov. 20, 2019.

There are also indications that seasonal influenza and COVID-19 will co-circulate this fall and winter.

“Seasonal influenza cases tend to spike during the fall and winter months. The exact timing of the flu season varies from year to year, but flu activity usually increases in October and peaks sometime between December and February,” says Grey Bruce Health Unit Physician Consultant Dr. Rim Zayed.

“We strongly urge everyone in Grey-Bruce who is eligible to get the annual flu shot as soon as possible once it becomes available this fall. The flu vaccine is the single most effective way to prevent illness and complications from influenza.”

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that everyone aged six months and older without contraindications to the vaccine should receive the flu shot each year.

Getting the vaccine is particularly important for individuals considered at high risk of developing influenza-related complications or being hospitalized as a result of the flu. This includes adults aged 65 and older and children aged six months to 59 months as well as residents of long-term care or chronic care facilities, adults and children with chronic health conditions, Indigenous residents and pregnant individuals.

Individuals over the age of five can receive influenza and COVID-19 vaccines during a single appointment, as there is no required time interval between doses.

Public Health recommendations aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 are also effective at reducing the transmission of seasonal flu. They include staying home if feeling unwell, washing hands frequently, cleaning and sanitizing commonly used surfaces frequently and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve or tissue and washing hands afterward.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is advising residents that the seasonal flu is caused by different virus strains than those that cause avian flu, which is impacting a small flock of birds at Harrison Park in Owen Sound. Avian flu does not spread easily from infected birds to humans and an avian flu outbreak doesn’t mean there will be a human outbreak.

photo: The Hub's own health and wellness contributor, PSW Barbara Fletcher, proudly showing off her flu shot arm in 2021.

source: media release, GBHU





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