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September 2009 E-Bulletin


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A Different Flu Season

As fall approaches, daycare providers and Ontario Early Years Centres need to prepare for influenza. Influenza, or the flu, is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by a virus (Health Canada, 2005). Seasonal influenza targets seniors, the very young, and those in poor health. However, H1N1 influenza is affecting more young and healthy people than the typical flu. The good news is that to-date, most cases of the H1N1 in our community have been mild.

Like seasonal flu, H1N1 is spread by an infected person coughing or sneezing. Someone close to that person can then inhale the virus and become infected. The virus can also come to rest on hard surfaces like tables, counters, doorknobs, and toys. A person touching these surfaces can infect himself when he touches his mouth or nose. The time between contact with the virus and infection is two to seven days. A person is then infectious from one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after symptoms have developed.

Symptoms of the H1N1 virus include:

  • Cough and fever (almost always)
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • Runny nose

Children can also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Prevention is Best

The Centre for Disease Control (2009) has found that some children may have mild symptoms. This may make it difficult for parents and service providers to tell if a child is infected with the flu or a cold. Therefore, the best way to prevent infection and to prevent spread of the flu is to encourage all staff, visitors, parents, and their children to get vaccinated against both the seasonal and H1N1 flu.

Other Precautions

Encourage all staff, visitors, parents, and children to:

  • Wash their hands often, especially after blowing their nose.
  • Cough and sneeze into their arm instead of their hand. 
  • Stay home if they develop flu-like symptoms, until they feel better.
  • Do not share food and drinks with others.

Women who are pregnant, especially in the last stages of pregnancy, need to contact their doctor if they develop flu-like symptoms. As with any flu, pregnant women can develop medical problems that can put both their’s and their baby’s health at risk.

As soon as it is available, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will send out information on the seasonal and H1N1 influenza and the availability of vaccines to all service providers. In the meantime, service providers should increase hand washing awareness in their facility and contact the Outbreak Management team at              519-258-2146, ext. 1444 if they observe an increase in absenteeism. 

 

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