Flu fight heads into New Year

By Communications Staff
January 08, 2014

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With classes returning in the heart of flu season, the Western community is turning its attention to prevention.

Flu season arrived early this season, and hit certain areas worse than others, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Health Canada’s FluWatch reported cases of influenza surged in December; January is shaping up to be even more miserable. Concerns are that because the flu struck early, it may hit again in the early spring, since the flu comes in waves and can infect people as late as March or April.

Last year’s season, caused mostly by the H3N2 virus, was quite nasty. This year the H1N1 virus is predominant – at this point, anyway. And while parts of the country are now in the throes of full-on flu outbreaks, the activity level is what one sees during flu season.

Health Canada stated a greater proportion of cases have been reported among adults 20-64 years old, compared to those 65 years or older, which is a change in the demographics from last year.

Western’s Health Services staff stresses getting a flu shot remains one of the most effective ways to prevent catching and spreading the flu virus.

With a health card there is no cost for a flu shot, as it is covered by OHIP. Students can book appointments through Students Health Services, University Community Centre (UCC), room 11, at 519-661-3030. Staff and faculty can book appointments for flu shots by contacting Workplace Health, UCC, room 25, at 519-661-2047. 

Beyond the shots, there are some basic steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of catching the flu.

“It’s an old saying, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Nicole Versaevel, Health Services health promotion manager. “We tend to overlook the simple steps we can take, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle in this fight. For instance, washing your hands is very basic, but it’s very effective. “

Among the advice being offered by health officials:

  • Know the symptoms – cough, fever, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches and tiredness;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Keep your hands away from your face;
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand;
  • Keep common surface areas clean and disinfected; and
  • If you get sick, stay home.

“You can help yourself by following these steps,” Versaevel said, “but you can also help others by not spreading the illness.”


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