The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is alerting local clinicians to a higher than usual number of reports of children and infants with influenza as well as a surge in the number of schools reporting absenteeism rates greater than 10%.
Surveillance information to date indicates the following:
- 14 lab-confirmed cases of influenza have been reported since September 1st .
- All 14 cases are Influenza type A.
- 11 of the 14 cases are H1N1. Subtype is not yet known for three cases.
- 57% of the cases are 10 years of age or younger (8 of the 14 cases).
- 3 of these cases are just a few weeks old.
- 64% of the cases are under 17 years of age (9 of the 14 cases).
- 21% are over 60 years of age (3 of the 14 cases).
- 8 local schools in the last 24 hours have reported absenteeism rates > 10% with over 400 children absent from school due to illness.
The dominant circulating strain is influenza A (H1N1), which is more virulent in infants and children. The Health Unit is requesting your support in encouraging pregnant women to get the flu vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine can protect the mother and her infant for the first 6 months of life. The flu vaccine is safe and recommended for pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy or when breastfeeding. As well, everyone living with or visiting a child under six months of age should also be encouraged to receive the influenza vaccine as this age group cannot be vaccinated.
Children 6 months of age and older are recommended to receive the flu vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine takes up to two weeks to become effective. Past trends indicate that a surge in influenza activity occurs during the holiday season. If the child is under 9 years of age and receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time, a second dose with a minimum of four weeks between doses is recommended.
Should anyone present with flu-like symptoms, please refer to the Health Unit website, under the Health Care Providers section, for treatment information (www.wechu.org). For more information, please contact the Infectious Disease Prevention Department Helpline at 519-258-2146, extension 1420.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, MBBS, MAS, MSc, FRCPC
Acting Medical Officer of Health