No one knows how easy it is for the flu to be spread over the winter months better than physicians like Dr. Bahareh Ghadaki.
The infectious disease specialist at Niagara Health says getting the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family from getting and passing on the flu.
But if you’re already sick, staying away from people is also important to prevent the spread of the respiratory virus.
“The flu is spread in three ways – direct contact with a sick individual, droplet transfer from coughing or sneezing, and touching contaminated surfaces like door knobs and handrails,” Dr. Ghadaki said. “When you’re sick, ensure that you stay a good distance from others. Stay home from work or school and avoid shaking hands or having direct contact with people.”
The flu is a respiratory virus with symptoms like fever, body aches, extreme fatigue, headache, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing. Some people can become very ill depending on their health and other factors, possibly developing complications that require hospitalization.
Handwashing, covering coughs or sneezes and avoiding loved ones already in healthcare settings like nursing homes and hospitals are all ways to prevent the spread. People are also urged to get a flu shot which is available for free at walk-in clinics, pharmacies, physicians’ offices and many other locations. For a list, visit www.ontario.ca/flu
“There are a lot of myths about the flu shot, but it’s one of the best defenses to protect yourself and others from getting the flu,” said Dr. Ghadaki.
Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre, Niagara Region Public Health, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Community Care Access Centre and Niagara Health are working together to help the public better understand the most appropriate healthcare options available if medical treatment is required over the busy holiday season and winter months.
The public is encouraged to visit their family doctor or nurse practitioner if they don’t require emergency or urgent care. Other options include:
• Walk-in clinics. Find one at Healthcare Options Ontario
• Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000)
• Calling 211 for more information.
Anyone in need of emergency medical care should call 9-1-1 or go to their nearest emergency department.
For more information on the flu virus, or where to seek care over the holidays and winter months, please visit:
www.niagarahealth.on.ca/options or www.niagararegion.ca/health/vaccinations/flu
Additional information about healthcare options in Niagara is also available at www.hnhbhealthline.ca.
You can also join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #KnowYourOptions