Thursday, November 20, 2014

H1N1 cases reported in region

There have been cases of H1N1, as well as one ’flu B, reported in the region, according to Donna Stanley, manager of controls of infectious disease for the Northwestern Health Unit.
“Mainly H1N1 has been coming up,” she noted, though citing they are not able to accurately report the number of cases.

“It’s not a counting system because not everyone who gets sick goes to the doctor and everyone who goes to the doctor doesn’t get tested,” Stanley explained.
“And also, the test results take a couple of weeks to catch up, so when you go in and they test you, we don’t get the results for up to two weeks.
“So they are not a great indicator of when there are a lot of sick people,” she reasoned.
Stanley did note that over the Christmas holidays, they were seeing “a little bit higher numbers of people going into the emergency room.”
But that seems to be going down now, she added.
“The lab tests help us to know what’s common as opposed to how many,” Stanley said.
“But looking at who is getting sick when is sometimes a better indication of where we’re at in the season, and we know that that is starting to improve.”
And she noted the number of people going to the ER was not extremely high this year.
“When we look at who is visiting emergency rooms, we kind of expect them to go up at this time of year because of people getting ’flu and colds—and they have—but not to any extreme,” she stressed.
And while Stanley also couldn’t report specific numbers of ’flu shots administered, she did say that they “have done at least as many as all year last year.”
“So interest has really picked up in the last couple of weeks with the news talking about ’flu,” she remarked, adding it’s not too late to get a ’flu shot.
“The ’flu shot can take up to two weeks for your body to actually get its best results,” she explained.
“So it would have been better if people had gotten their ’flu shot in November.
“But having said that, we certainly don’t want to discourage people from getting it,” she stressed.
Stanley suggested at this point in the season that people get the ’flu shot, but don’t rely on it along to protect you.
“Doing the other measures—like encouraging others around you who are sick to stay home, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from people who are coughing or sick—those are probably going to help you a little bit more at this point,” she noted.
“But the ’flu shot is still going to give you some protection and some is always better then zero,” Stanley reasoned, also suggesting that people try to stay hydrated, which is really important in battling the ’flu.
“We do know that H1N1 ’flu, which is the common one, tends to not really make elderly people sick because it’s very much like a virus that has been around for a long time,” she explained.
Rather, it seems to be causing more serious illness in children under five.
“So if you have a child under five, certainly contact the health unit or your doctor if you haven’t had a ’flu shot,” Stanley urged.
She added that if other family members get their ’flu shot, that also helps to protect the children.

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