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’Flu season here similar

Influenza, or the ’flu, is a disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, body aches, severe fatigue, and cough.

Symptoms generally last up to a week, but it may be two or more weeks before a person feels well again.

Some people with the ’flu may experience vomiting or diarrhea, but if these are the only symptoms, a person likely has some other type of infection.

Often people will use the term “stomach ’flu,” but that illness is not influenza and is not prevented by the ’flu shot.

As of mid-January, the Kenora and Rainy River districts are experiencing a ’flu season similar to what has been seen in previous years, other than the recent pandemic H1N1 influenza season.

Many people are mildly ill, where they feel terrible but their illness goes away without any medical treatment, while some are sick enough to require hospitalization.

Individuals who are very young, elderly, or have other long-term illnesses are more likely to become sicker.

Since December, influenza has been confirmed in three communities.

’Flu shots continue to be available, and residents are encouraged to get one until ’flu season ends in April.

Getting a ’flu shot is as easy as contacting your local Northwestern Health Unit office to make an appointment, or visiting your physician.

To date, the Northwestern Health Unit has administered more than 80 percent of the number of ’flu shots given in an average season.

The current ’flu vaccine contains three virus strains: two type ‘A’ strains (one matching this year’s most common type, H3N2, and one matching last year’s H1N1) and one B strain.

This vaccine is on target to protect against this year’s ’flu.

The Northwestern Health Unit monitors the ’flu and other diseases through laboratory reports, absences from schools, emergency rooms visits, and calls to Telehealth.

In the past week, the number of calls to Telehealth in our area has increased noticeably with questions about respiratory illness, which includes cold and ’flu.

Regular cleaning, washing your hands frequently, drinking plenty of liquids, eating healthy, and being physically active can help protect you (and others) from getting sick.

When feeling unwell, particularly in the first day or two, and whenever a fever is present, avoid going into workplaces, schools, long-term care homes, and hospitals.

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