Flu arrives in Bruce County


By Barb McKay


This season’s first case of Influenza A has been confirmed in a Hanover resident.


The Grey Bruce Health Unit confirmed Thursday that laboratory results confirmed the flu strain and health care practitioners in the region have been notified and will perform tests on individuals with influenza symptoms. Across the province, 22 cases of influenza have been confirmed since Oct. 13.


As a result, the health unit is upping the ante to encourage the public and health care professionals to get a flu shot. Suspensions of two vaccines, Fluad and Agriflu, were lifted by Health Canada last week. The suspension was put in place last month, following on the heels of similar suspensions in Europe. According to a media release from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the suspension of the vaccines was purely cautionary and after conducting its own assessments and tests, Health Canada concluded the vaccines remained safe to use.


“Our number one priority is and always will be the health and safety of Ontarians,” Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said in the release. “The flu shot remains the most effective and safe way to ensure you and your family avoid getting sick with the flu this season.”


Flu shot are currently being administered by family doctors, family health teams, some pharmacists and at public health clinics. An influenza immunization clinic will be held in Kincardine at Huron Heights Public School Nov. 19 from 4-8 p.m.

Along with getting a flu shot, public health officials are encouraging people to prevent the spread of germs by washing their hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cough into their sleeves rather than their hands. Individuals who are unwell should stay home and rest and especially avoid visiting friends and family in hospital or in long-term care facilities.


Flu symptoms might not be the same for everyone, but can include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, extreme fatigue and weakness. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and ear aches.


Health care professionals are especially being encouraged to get a flu shot because they are more often in contact with individuals who are elderly or have weakened immune systems. Last year, 96 per cent of Grey Bruce Health Unit staff was vaccinated. At the South Bruce Grey Health Centre only 44 per cent of staff was immunized. At Kincardine hospital 52 per cent of employees received a flu shot. At the Chesley hospital 64 per cent of staff was immunized; at the Durham hospital 43 per cent of staff received the flu shot; and at Walkerton hospital just 36 per cent of staff received the flu shot.


At long-term care facilities and retirement homes in Bruce County, immunization figures were somewhat higher in 2011. At Trillium Court, 95 per cent of residents and 71 per cent of staff received the flu shot. At RVilla Retirement Living in Ripley, 96 per cent of residents and 93 per cent of staff received vaccinations. At Tiverton Park Manor 71 per cent of residents and 94 per cent of staff received the flu shot. At Malcolm Place in Kincardine 10 per cent of residents and 14 per cent of staff were vaccinated.