File photo of woman coughing. Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / HighwayStarzFile photo of woman coughing. Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / HighwayStarz
London

Southwestern Public Health records first 7 flu cases in a week

The health unit for Oxford and Elgin counties has gone from zero to seven lab-confirmed flu cases in just one week.

Southwestern Public Health said on Wednesday the seven influenza A cases are the region's first confirmed cases of the season. One of the cases involved a resident at a local long-term care home, while the rest were among people living in the community.

Health officials said the sudden jump shows that influenza is circulating within the two counties and that residents should take steps to protect themselves.

"The influenza vaccine is widely available," said Dr. Ninh Tran, the region's medical officer of health. "Now is the time to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from this respiratory virus by adding a flu shot to your regular habits of handwashing, staying home when unwell, and covering your coughs and sneezes."

Anyone who is 6 months of age or older is eligible to receive the flu shot. The updated COVID-19 vaccine can also be administered at the same time as the flu shot.

"Save time and protect yourself from both viruses by booking at a pharmacy that can offer both flu and COVID-19 vaccination. Or, for the month of December, come to our COVID-19 clinics on Buller Street in Woodstock or Talbot Street in St. Thomas for a COVID-19 vaccine and ask to be vaccinated against the flu at the same time," said Tran.

This week is considered key for people wanting to increase their immunity to the viruses before the holidays, as it takes between 10 to 14 days for protection to take effect.

Nearby London and Middlesex County reported 23 new influenza A cases and 130 new COVID-19 cases last week. While transmission of the flu in this region is currently listed as localized, provincially it is rising.

The flu typically leads to approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. It is considered to be among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country, according to Health Canada.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle or body aches, weakness, and fatigue. More information about the virus can be found online at www.swpublichealth.ca/flu.

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