YELLOWKNIFE (March 4, 2016) - Influenza (the flu) is a vaccine-preventable respiratory infection caused by influenza A and B viruses that occur in Canada and the NWT each year. The virus is spread easily from person to person through coughing or sneezing, even before symptoms are apparent. It can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles and phones.
Flu “season” typically starts in late fall and continues through winter months. As of March 3, 2016, there have been 61 cases of influenza confirmed in the NWT, with 10 hospitalizations. Cases have been confirmed in Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife, as well as in the DehCho, TliCho, Beaufort Delta and Sahtu regions. This level of influenza activity is typical during flu season.
The type of influenza A identified early in the NWT’s flu season was mostly H2N3, but now it is predominantly H1N1. Both strains are included in the current season’s flu vaccine. Less than 10% of individuals with confirmed influenza this season were vaccinated.
The influenza vaccine is safe and helps to prevent the spread of influenza as well as reduced risk for influenza related complications. It is provided each year free of charge to all NWT residents 6 months of age and older. Residents can still receive the flu vaccine by contacting their local health centre or public health unit.
Most people with the flu recover within 7-10 days without needing medical care but some people are at risk for more severe complications, including:
- The elderly,
- Residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities,
- Those with underlying health conditions,
- Infants and young children, and
- Pregnant women.
In addition to getting vaccinated, the best ways to prevent passing on the flu to these vulnerable people and others are to (1) practice good hand washing, (2) cough or sneeze into your sleeve, and (3) stay home if you have flu symptoms. Please visit http://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/health/diseases-conditions/flu-influenza for more information.
For more information contact:
Health and Social Services
(867) 767-9052 ext 49034