Influenza (or “flu”) is a respiratory illness that spreads easily. It is caused by the influenza virus. Anyone can get the flu. Many people are ill with the flu for several days and some people may get much sicker and need hospital care. The flu leads to thousands of deaths each year, mostly among the elderly, but young children and those with chronic health conditions are also at risk. In Canada, the flu season usually runs from November to April.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the flu is to get the flu shot each year in the fall.
Common symptoms of influenza include:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- muscle aches
Influenza rarely causes diarrhea or throwing up. It is not the same as what's often referred to as "stomach flu."
How does it spread?
The flu virus spreads when someone who is sick with the flu coughs or sneezes, sending droplets into the air. You can get the flu by breathing in these droplets through your nose or mouth, or by those droplets landing directly on your eyes.
The flu virus is also found on the hands of people with the flu. It can pass onto the surfaces they touch. You can catch the flu if you shake hands with an infected person or touch contaminated surfaces and then bring your hands to your own eyes, nose or mouth. It's important to wash your hands often to reduce your chance of getting sick.
Some people can get the flu and have no symptoms, but could possibly pass the virus on to others without knowing it. Children are major spreaders of the flu in the household.
How can I protect myself?
To help stay healthy, people are urged to practice these precautions:
- Get a flu shot
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve
- Keep surfaces and items disinfected
- Stay home if you are sick. If you are ill, do not visit people – especially the elderly - in long-term care facilities or hospitals.
The Flu Shot
The vaccine is updated annually because influenza viruses can change every year. A flu shot is about 70% to 90% effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults and children.
Visit our Flu Shot page for more information.
Flu Activity in Perth County
In Canada, influenza (flu) season usually runs from November to April.
The Perth District Health Unit tracks the flu in the community by:
- Lab-confirmed cases submitted through local doctors and hospitals;
- outbreaks at local hospitals, long-term care homes and other facilities;
- reports of high absenteeism in children from schools due to influenza-like symptoms.
The number of lab-confirmed cases of flu is only a small portion of people who may actually have the flu. Many people do not see a doctor or get tested when they are ill. The number of lab-confirmed cases being reported indicates the extent of flu in the county, however, there are likely many more cases in the County that we haven’t heard about.
To view the amount of influenza activity in Ontario and in our region, click on the Public Health Agency of Canada – Flu Watch link on the right hand side.