The Peterborough County-City Health Unit has declared a community-wide influenza outbreak in Peterborough due to a recent increase in the number of confirmed local cases.
“We now have had influenza outbreaks at four long term care homes in our area,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, “and have seen an increased number of patients presenting at the PRHC Emergency Department with influenza-like illness.”
Dr. Salvaterra explains that, while this may seem late for a flu outbreak, the flu season can last until April.
Lab-confirmed cases have indicated that both Influenza A and Influenza B strains are circulating. One long-term care facility has both.
“The good news is that this year’s vaccine is a strong match with circulating strains and protects against both A and B strains,” Dr. Salvaterra says.
All long-term care homes with an outbreak have instructed staff who did not get the flu shot to take antiviral medication, which can be effective as a second-line treatment to prevent the spread of the flu and to treat an infection, if used early.
Antiviral medication along with masks and good hand washing can help protect those who are vulnerable to the flu, Dr. Salvaterra explains.
While influenza can be fatal for immunocompromised patients, most healthy people can weather the virus and will not require a visit to the doctor.
Dr. Salvaterra recommends that anyone how is feeling unwell stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.
For more information about infection control and influenza, visit www.pcchu.ca.