Spike in flu cases in the area

GETTY    
   DEADLY The killer strain of flu called H3N2 is striking people down across the UK

GETTY DEADLY The killer strain of flu called H3N2 is striking people down across the UK

Dr. Jerome Leis, the medical director for infection prevention and control at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says it's too early to tell what kind of flu season Ontario will experience, and whether we are destined to face the same fate as Australia.

Michael Mendoza says as of December 23rd, there were 365 confirmed cases, sending 109 people to the hospital. The number of reported cases has already outstripped last year's numbers.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher issued a warning to Minister Simon Harris on the Fianna Fáil website, asking that the resources are in place to deal with a possible surge in the number of people being admitted to hospital following a spike in the number of "Aussie flu" cases. "The flu vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that research and surveillance indicate will likely be most common during the season".

So far, 512 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported to the CDC this year.

He said the growing numbers could be by chance, but the holiday season might also be a contributing factor. That doesn't mean people should skip it, said Lockwood. These include carrying tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes, then to bin the tissues, washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently cleaning surfaces like computer keyboards, telephones and other regularly used objects.

"This particular virus tends to mutate very quickly". Randy Bergen, clinical lead for Kaiser Permanente's flu vaccination program in Northern California.

"It looks like the worst cold you've ever had", he said.

Kendrick said those distinguishing features for him are whether or not a person has body aches and if they feel like they've been "hit by a truck".

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The illness, Kendrick said, is then commonly treated with TamiFlu, an anti-viral medication, with best results within 48 hours of symptom onset.

This compared with 8.7 consultations per 100,000 in the week before, and pushes the number of cases above levels normally expected for this time of year.

They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. In the same period a year ago, the number of cases reported was 1,866.

The flu season in the Greater Toronto Area has been fairly mild so far this year, but one expert says it could get much more severe before it's over, because of two strains of influenza that this season's vaccine doesn't cover.

It can take up to two weeks to build full immunity to the flu after you are vaccinated, so I encourage everyone who has not yet had a flu shot to get one today before the holidays.

Harvard Medical School says the vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection.

The flu shot has been plagued by stories of its ineffectiveness. "Sometimes the flu shot is not as protective as it is in other years, but it's still worth getting".

Amendments to the regulations allow for the removal of masks when health care workers are accompanying patients in the community, providing speech therapy services, or communicating with persons who lip read.

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