Nova Scotia

Maritime senior homes prepare for flu season

Nova Scotia has only one confirmed case of the flu, far behind P.E.I. with 11 and New Brunswick with 14 cases.

Flu season has officially hit the Maritimes.

The flu shot offers about 60 per cent protection each year, research suggests. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia has only one confirmed case of the flu, far behind P.E.I. with 11 and New Brunswick with 14 cases.

"It started out west and is moving east as it always does and we certainly expect in the Maritimes and Atlantic provinces we're going to get much more influenza over the next few weeks," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer.

That means ramping up prevention at Northwood at the Harbour, the largest seniors' facility in the Maritimes.

Dr. Michael Gardam, director of the infection prevention and control unit at the University Health Network in Toronto, suggested three proven ways to avoid getting sick with flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Don't touch your face.

An estimated 90 per cent of residents have had a flu shot, but Heather Smith, Northwood's infection control nurse, said that doesn't protect those who haven't been vaccinated.

"We hope and frequently remind people that if they're sick, please do not visit. These people are old and frail a lot of them, and if they get sick, they get the flu [and] it can be fatal for them," said Smith.

In Canada, the influenza A(H3N2) strain is covered by this year's flu vaccine.

Last year the flu season didn't start until March and was considered mild. This season's earlier start is expected to make it more severe, but well within what is considered a normal year.

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