Health unit identifies outbreaks in care homes
Kelso Villa retirement home in Owen Sound and Grey Gables longterm care home in Markdale have joined two other area care facilities in dealing with respiratory outbreaks.
The outbreak of influenza was declared at Kelso Villa on Dec. 31, while the agent has yet to be identified in the outbreak at Grey Gables, which was declared on Jan. 2.
Lee Manor long-term care home and Hannah Walker Place retirement home in Owen Sound are already dealing with influenza A outbreaks, declared on Dec. 28 and Dec. 23 respectively.
In a note on its website, Grey County said the outbreak at Lee Manor is on the first floor south, while the outbreak at Grey Gables is on the Pine Ridge wing.
“At this time, in order to control the outbreak and prevent further spreading, we are discouraging visitors to the homes,” it said on the website. “Signs have been posted on the front doors indicating the outbreaks and will be taken off once the outbreak is declared over. Visitor restrictions may change over the course of the outbreak and updates will be provided.”
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s case definition of a respiratory outbreak is two cases of acute respiratory infections (ARI) within 48 hours in a specific unit or floor, with at least one being laboratory confirmed, or three cases of ARI (laboratory confirmation not necessary) within 48 hours in a specific unit or floor.
The outbreaks come as flu season picks up in the region.
In its influenza bulletin for the week of Dec. 23 to 29, which was released on Wednesday, the Grey Bruce Health Unit upgraded its influenza activity from sporadic to localized.
There were 29 laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases for the week, which was up from 17 for the week of Dec. 16 to 22.
So far in the 2018-19 flu season, there have been 61 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A. There has yet to be a case of influenza B or influenza A and B.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that most people recover from after a few days but can be life-threatening to some, particularly the elderly, young children, pregnant women or those with certain chronic medical illness.
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches and fatigue. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea, more commonly in children than adults.
People with the flu are advised to stay home to prevent its spread, while proper hygiene such as hand washing is also recommended.
Public health encourages everyone to get their flu shot. It is available at pharmacies and health practitioners, as well as at clinics held at family health teams and other medical practitioner groups.
While last year, the vaccine results was somewhat disappointing, this year indications are that it is a better match to the strain of flu that is making the rounds.