As of Jan. 16 there have been 16 lab-confirmed influenza cases in Perth County and five deaths associated with the virus.
Additionally, the Perth District Health Unit has been monitoring five influenza outbreaks in long-term care homes, one of which is still ongoing.
A health unit press release issued Friday afternoon notes that many people do not see a doctor or get tested when they are sick. Therefore the lab-confirmed cases may only represent a small number of people who are sick with the flu in Perth County.
The health unit urges people who are sick to stay home.
“Staying home will help stop the spread of flu to people who may be more likely to become very ill, such as the elderly,” says Lorna Askes, a public health nurse.
People who are ill are especially urged to avoid visiting long-term care homes, retirement homes, or hospitals until they are well again.
According to Public Health Agency of Canada, A(H3N2) continues to be the most common type of influenza affecting Canadians. In each of the laboratory detections, hospitalizations, and deaths, the majority of cases have been among seniors aged 65 and older.
The majority of the lab-confirmed specimens are A(H3N2), which is not optimally matched to the strain in this year’s flu shot. However, the health unit says the flu shot remains the best protection against the flu as it can still provide some protection against A(H3N2) influenza illness and can offer protection against other strains, such as A(H1N1) and influenza B.
The flu shot is still available through family doctors for all ages and select pharmacies for people aged five and over.
The health unit advises residents to take these simple precautions:
• Get a flu shot
• Wash hands thoroughly and often
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeve
• Keep surfaces and items disinfected
• Stay home if you are sick.