Public health agencies flag first signs of flu in Kingston, Belleville areas

Public health agencies in Kingston and Belleville have announced their first confirmed cases of flu for the season.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health confirmed four cases of influenza, all located within a specific retirement home in the Belleville area. Quinte Health Care has also confirmed four cases of the flu that resulted in patients being admitted to hospital.

KFL&A Public Health has found just one confirmed case in the Kingston area so far.

Although it’s a bit early in the season for the flu, according to Adrienne Hansen-Taugher, manager of infectious disease prevention and emergency preparedness at KFL&A Public Health, so far the predominant strain in Canada looks to be H1N1, which she expects to be mirrored locally.

“This is good news because H1N1 tends to produce a more mild illness and results in fewer complications, hospitalizations and deaths compared to other strains,” Hansen-Taugher said in an email.

She says other strains, like H3N2, “are notorious for causing complications resulting in hospitalization and death.”

Having a milder strain circulating is good news for the elderly population, which is more vulnerable to stronger viruses.

Hansen-Taugher says that although the flu season has already started, it isn’t too late to get a flu shot.

“It takes about 14 days for the vaccine to be effective. Early reports are leaning towards a good match between the current circulating virus and the components of this year’s vaccine,” she said.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is advising people to stay home if they’re experiencing symptoms of the flu, even mild ones, since the virus is able to live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.

Symptoms of the common flu include fever, cough, muscle aches and pain, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose, the public health agency says.

Public health officials advise patients with severe flu symptoms like difficulty breathing or shortness of breath to go to the emergency room.

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