WINNIPEG, Jan. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - Infection Prevention and Control Canada
(IPAC Canada) reminds us that this year's influenza season has arrived
with a vengeance.
Western provinces are seeing rapidly increasing rates of infection, both
in the community and in healthcare settings. With the outbreak
spreading eastward, other parts of the country can expect to be
increasing rates of influenza over the coming weeks.
The main strain of influenza circulating at this time is H1N1, similar
to the strain responsible for the 2009 influenza pandemic. The H1N1
strain hits certain members of our population particularly hard,
including young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health
conditions such as asthma. There are key things that you can do to stay
First and foremost, as IPAC Canada President Bruce Gamage explains, is
to get a flu shot. "The influenza vaccine is the best defense against
developing an influenza infection," he says. "The currently circulating
strain of H1N1 is well matched with the vaccine strain. The vaccine is
not 100% effective in preventing influenza infection, but if you've
received the vaccine and develop an infection it is likely to be mild."
Canadians should be aware that it's not too late to get this year's
vaccine, but supplies are running short in some areas of the country.
IPAC recommends that one should consult their local pharmacy or family
physician to ensure they have a good supply. Vaccine is provided free
to children under 17, those over 65 and people with chronic health
As always, the influenza vaccine is provided to all healthcare providers
by their employers. It is essential for all healthcare providers to be
immunized to prevent them from transmitting the virus to those they
IPAC Canada also notes the other key action you can take to avoid
getting influenza is frequent hand hygiene. A common way for the
influenza virus to enter your body is via our hands. When we touch a
surface that is contaminated and then touch our face, eyes, nose or
mouth, the virus can enter our body and cause infection. Frequent hand
hygiene with soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rubs is very
effective in removing viruses that we pick up from the environment on
our hands. It is especially important to clean your hands before eating
or handling food.
If you do become ill, take care not to spread the virus to others. Stay
home when you are sick. Dragging yourself to work when you are sick is
not doing yourself a favour, and is a good way to spread you germs to
others - so stay home until you are feeling better. If you are coughing
or sneezing make sure to cover up. Cough or sneeze into your upper arm
or elbow or use a tissue. Remember to continue to clean your hands
regularly, especially if you cough or sneeze into your hands. If you
have a chronic health condition, seek advice from a healthcare provider
on whether you should receive antiviral medication.
The key to staying healthy this influenza season is through following
these simple but effective measures.
About IPAC Canada
IPAC Canada, formerly CHICA-Canada, is a national, multi-disciplinary,
voluntary association of Infection Prevention and Control Professionals
(ICPs) with 22 chapters across the country dedicated to the health of
Canadians by promoting excellence in the practice of infection
prevention and control. Visit IPAC Canada's website (www.ipac-canada.org) for infection prevention and control information.
SOURCE: Infection Prevention and Control Canada
For further information:
Gerry Hansen (Ms), Executive Director, IPAC Canada