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Box 2003
Weyburn, Saskatchewan
S4H 2Z9
Tel: (306) 842-8399
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The flu is here

Cases of influenza-like illness, lab-confirmed pandemic influenza (H1N1) and seasonal influenza have appeared in communities in Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) during the week of Oct. 22. 

This is not unexpected as H1N1 influenza has been present in Saskatchewan since May, 2009.

The times and locations for seasonal flu clinics can be found by clicking on this link http://www.suncountry.sk.ca/service/135/88/influenza.html

There have also been reports of increased absenteeism and influenza-like illness at several schools across SCHR. The schools, school divisions and SCHR are working together to minimize the impact of influenza in schools.

Most of the lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in SCHR have been reported in school-aged children.

SCHR is also seeing an increase in the number of people going to emergency departments for mild influenza-like illness.

Here are some important steps that can prevent the spread of influenza in children:
• If your child develops influenza like illness (for example - cough, sore throat, fever) keep them at home and limit their contact with other people as much as possible until they are better.
• Please do not send your children to school until they are symptom free and are feeling well and able to fully participate in all normal day to day school activities (e.g., intra/extramural activities and school trips). They may experience flu symptoms for up to 7 days.
• Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds (hand hygiene). Encourage them to wash their hands frequently and be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
• Teach your children to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of the elbow (respiratory etiquette). Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
• If your child plays on a sports team, teach them not to share water bottles with their team members and remind them to regularly wash their water bottle with soap and warm water and rinse it well.
• Teach your children to stay at least two metres away from people who are sick.
• Get the pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine when it becomes available and have your children immunized.
o When final details about the dates for immunization are completed they will be available through HealthLine - 1-877-800-0002 or can be found on the Sun Country Health Region website.

Pandemic H1N1 influenza virus is at a relatively low level in Sun Country Health Region but is increasing.

H1N1 characteristics:
• Influenza-like illness (ILI): acute onset of fever and cough and one or more of: sore throat, muscle aches, joint pain, or weakness. Vomiting/diarrhea may be present (especially in children) and fever may not be prominent.
• Transmission: directly from person to person through coughing or sneezing, and indirectly from touching contaminated surfaces and objects and then touching the eyes/nose/mouth.
• Severity: ranges from mild to severe. Most H1N1 illness to date has been relatively mild. It appears to be more severe mainly in vulnerable people with underlying illnesses including chronic lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, immune deficiency, and in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
• How contagious: transmission is most likely to occur during the first few days of obvious illness. It is recommended that persons who are ill with ILI symptoms should stay home from work or school and limit contact with others and not return to routine activities outside the home until they are completely symptom free.
• Mild symptoms of influenza-like illness, such as only fever and sore throat in persons with no underlying illness, can be managed at home. If symptoms are, or become, severe (i.e. difficulty breathing, prolonged/frequent vomiting/diarrhea, drowsiness) then people should seek medical care quickly.
• Mild symptoms of influenza-like illness, such as only fever and sore throat in persons with no underlying illness, can be managed at home. If symptoms are, or become, severe (i.e. difficulty breathing, prolonged/frequent vomiting/diarrhea, drowsiness) then people should seek medical care quickly.

Most people with mild symptoms do not need to see a doctor and should call Healthline at 1-877-800-0002 or www.healthlineonline.com/ for more information. Pregnant women and people with some chronic health conditions should see their doctor even if they have mild illness. Anyone with more severe symptoms should contact their physician.

People should not go to the emergency department for a doctor's note.

People with mild illness should stay at home and self-isolate. Find the H1N1 printable self isolation guide at http://www.suncountry.sk.ca/service/156/88/h1n1-self-isolation-guide.html

Please refer to the Ministry of Health document Information for Parents When Caring for Sick Children from http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/flu-caring-for-sick-children

Additional information about influenza can be obtained from HealthLine at 1-877-800-0002 or at HealthLine Online at http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/healthline-online.

You can also get more information on influenza from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health at www.health.gov.sk.ca
or at www.fightflu.ca .

For general questions about influenza, call your local Public Health Office during regular working hours to speak to a Public Health Nurse.
o Weyburn Public Health 842-8618
o Carlyle Community Health 453-2366
o Coronach Health Centre 276-5705
o Redvers Health Centre 452-3464
o Galloway Health Centre 483-2313
o Kipling Community Health 736-2112
o St. Joseph's Hospital 637-8629
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Posted October, 2009

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