Influenza - often called "The Flu" - is a serious, acute respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza virus. Common signs and symptoms of influenza infection include:
- runny/stuffy nose
- sore throat
- body aches
- extreme weakness and fatigue
The Influenza virus is transmitted through contact with large respiratory droplets of an infected person when he/she coughs or sneezes. It is also spread through the direct contact of surfaces contaminated with the virus such as telephones, keyboards and other hard surfaces.
While Influenza can infect people of any age, there is a higher risk of more severe illness and complications in persons who are very young, older (>65 years) persons, pregnant women, have a chronic underlying disease or have a compromised immune system.
It is estimated that in a given year, up to 20,000 hospitalizations are related to influenza infection and it's complications, and that between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians will die as a result of the infection.
Your best defence against becoming infected with the influenza virus is the annul "Flu Shot"
Influenza Vaccine 2011
Simcoe Muskoka Influenza Immunization Challenge 2011
To find out more about influenza infection and influenza immunization click here
Who Should Get A Flu Shot?
Anyone in the province of Ontario greater than 6 months of age is eligible, and encouraged to get an annual flu shot.
Those at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalizations include:
- Adults (including pregnant women) and children with a chronic health condition (i.e. cardiac, COPD, diabetes, cancer, renal disease, morbid obesity)
- People of any age who are residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
- People ≥ 65 years of age
- Healthy children 6 to 23 months of age
- Healthy pregnant women (the risk of influenza-related hospitalization increases with length of gestation (it is higher in the third than in the second trimester)
- Aboriginal peoples
People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk include:
- Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who, through their activities, are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complications
- Household contacts (adults and children) of individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization (includes households with infants <6months of age)
- People providing regular child care to children <24 months of age
- People who provide services within closed or relatively closed settings to persons at high risk (i.e. crew on a ship)
- People who provide essential community service (i.e. Fire, EMS, Police)
- People in direct contact during culling operations with poultry infected with avian influenza
To find out more, click Who Should Get A Flu Shot?