January 4, 2018 – Today Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra declared a community-wide influenza outbreak in Peterborough due to a recent increase in the number of confirmed local cases.
“We now have influenza outbreaks at four long term care homes in our area, and have seen an increased number of patients presenting at the PRHC Emergency Department with influenza-like illness,” said Dr. Salvaterra. “We have been seeing an increase in influenza cases ever since the Christmas holiday began and now we have enough evidence to believe there is widespread transmission occurring.”
“There is no reason to believe that this year’s vaccine is not a strong match with circulating strains,” she said. Dr. Salvaterra noted that all of the long-term care homes in outbreak have instructed staff who did not get the flu shot to take antiviral medication. “Antivirals can be effective as a second line treatment to prevent influenza spread when outbreaks occur or to treat an influenza infection, if used early. Hopefully, most caregivers have been immunized but if not, antivirals, masks and good hand washing can help protect those who are vulnerable.”
Most healthy individuals are able to weather the virus and will not require a visit to the doctor. For those who are feeling unwell, Dr. Salvaterra recommends that you stay home to avoid spreading the virus. However, people with compromised immune systems, other chronic diseases, or even a healthy woman in her last trimester of pregnancy are at greater risk of hospitalization and death from influenza. Anyone who has symptoms of influenza and risk factors for severe illness or complications should seek medical care as soon as possible. “Physicians and Nurse Practitioners are prescribing antivirals for patients who might benefit from them, but this needs to be done within the first 24 to 48 hours of the illness,” said Dr. Salvaterra.
For more information about infection control and influenza, please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and click on “Immunization” and then “Influenza”.