In connection with the recent suspected case of H5N1 influenza in Halton and Durham Region, CMEA confirmed the co-incidence of H5N1 (NORAVA) variant virus-causing influenza virus called COVID-19 virus-causing influenza virus in six out of 12 laboratory cases.
“With COVID-19 variant virus-causing influenza virus detected in confirmed and suspected cases in Halton and Durham Region, an epidemiological review has been initiated and identified six laboratory specimens” said Dr. Anastasia Vink, Regional Chief Health Officer.
She added, “We are collaborating with partner agencies including Public Health Ontario, the Health Measures Working Group and relevant provincial and provincial agencies in providing appropriate monitoring of influenza activity in the region.”
The suspected patient that was recently identified in Halton and Durham Region was a patient from Brampton, Ontario.
“We have been working closely with Health Measures Working Group in the Halton Region to assess patient care and alert partners to identify potential clusters of H5N1,” said Dr. Vink.
“Over the last few weeks we have already begun to identify several laboratory-confirmed patients in our region of CoVID-19 variant virus” said Dr. Vink.
“We are aware that other flu strains in Canada and around the world may be contributing to this season’s influenza virus” she added.
In addition to influenza, and H5N1 at different severity, other influenza viruses may present during an influenza season.
Flu viruses are a constantly evolving product and therefore may introduce new genetic material (DNA) and, by mutation, change in function.
As viruses mutate, they can become more dangerous or less infectious, said Dr. Vink.
Therefore, Canadians can be more prepared for a circulating flu virus in their area as one can expect a constantly changing arsenal of viruses circulating in the world each season.
Research confirms people can spread influenza viruses more rapidly through direct contact with body fluids and mucus from an infected patient.
Highly contagious seasonal influenza viruses circulate throughout North America and world populations during the year.
Most people have an immune system response to both seasonal and pandemic flu viruses. In both cases, the immune system recovers before an infected person becomes seriously ill and may die, added Dr. Vink.
Patients can still infect others even if not sick and it is important to seek medical care if someone comes down with a fever and flu-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat, watery eyes, body aches, and fatigue.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people with other health complications are at risk of dying from influenza.
Every year in the United States, flu infects an estimated 250,000 people, about 36,000 of whom die.
The public should take measures to prevent the spread of the flu including:
* Keeping doors and windows closed and using hand sanitizer to help prevent the spread of the flu.
* Don’t go to school or work if you have symptoms of the flu and are coughing or sneezing.
* It is essential to have two ways to get to the emergency room. Tell your doctor about this before going to the ER.
* See your doctor if you or someone you know develops flu symptoms.
* Get flu shots. They can help to prevent flu and make a person less infectious.
* Washing your hands can also help to prevent the spread of the flu. People with low immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the spread of influenza.
* Try to avoid exposure to the person who has the flu.
* Watch for symptoms of influenza at work, school, or in public places. If your symptoms start before your immunity is fully recovered, get sick or go to the doctor right away.
* Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before you eat.
* Avoid people who are coughing or sneezing.
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