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Media Release

Flu has arrived in Winnipeg: WRHA encourages people to stay home this holiday if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Friday, December 22, 2017

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced today that incidents of influenza and influenza-like-illness is on the rise in Winnipeg hospitals. It was determined yesterday that a unit within HSC Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital had identified two or more cases of flu within a seven day period, which classifies as an Influenza-like Illness Outbreak.

“While flu has contributed to busy departments across the system, both emergency and inpatient areas, there has only been one inpatient unit that has identified an outbreak so far,” said Lori Lamont, Acting COO, Vice President Nursing and Health Professions. “Children’s Hospital has implemented additional infection control measures to reduce the spread and keep children and their families safe.”

Those preventative measures include: posting signage across the unit, encouraging the use of masks in patient care areas, bringing patients with similar symptoms together to reduce the spread among non-affected patients and regular screening of all patients on the unit to monitor any additional spread of the virus.

Regardless of the isolated outbreak, Lamont reminds all Winnipeggers to be mindful of any flu-like symptoms they may have and be considerate the health of friends and family as they come together this holiday season.

“If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms we’d encourage you to stay home and rest and get lots of fluids and avoid visiting family who may be more susceptible to the flu like young children, the elderly or those who may have underlying health conditions.”

Influenza activity in the community remains moderate however the severity of the strain this year seems to be causing more severe symptoms resulting in more hospitalizations as the virus makes its way into Winnipeg. The predominant strain this season has been Influenza A which is included in this year’s flu vaccine and Lamont encourages all Winnipeggers to get the vaccine from family doctors, public health nurses or local pharmacies if they have not yet.

“While recent evidence from western Canada suggests that the vaccine has not been as effective as in past years it remains an important tool in our arsenal to keep both you, and your loved ones healthy as it may still reduce the impact of the virus if not prevent it altogether.”

So what else can you do to stay healthy and avoid the flu this season?

“Avoid public places like crowded shopping centres, especially with babies and young children, and don’t visit loved ones in hospital, or personal care homes, if you’re feeling ill,” said Dr.Terry Klassen, medical director of the WRHA child health program. “Most importantly though: wash your hands and don’t share food or personal items with people who are sick. Frequent hand washing, especially after touching your face, your child’s face, another person who is ill, is the best way to prevent spreading germs.”

Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is encouraged to stay home this season and avoid visiting patients in hospital or personal care homes. For more information about flu please speak with your doctor or public health nurse or call Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257).