A declaration of widespread influenza in the area has been made. Dr. Charles Gardner, the Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, made that announcement this morning. That means with the flu widespread in the community, the public needs to be very cautious to protect themselves. The declaration is based on emergency room visits, lab-confirmed flu cases, institutional outbreaks and doctor reports of fever and flu-like illness.

The health unit will have to notify the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Public Health Ontario to keep them informed of the situation. The health unit says some health care organizations will use the declaration to implement strategies to control the spread of the flu, especially within healthcare facilities.

The health unit says we are at, or near, the peak of flu season in the area which could last anywhere from two to four weeks.

The health unit says make sure your entire family has the flu shot, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you’re sick, and practice good sleep and nutrition habits. If you’re feeling sick and you’re not getting better, if your symptoms get worse, or if you have a medical condition and develop flu symptoms, seek medical attention. Call your family doctor or health care provider, or  Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, which has a registered nurse available 24/7.

As of January 9th, there were 198 confirmed cases of the flu within the health unit’s area.