According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic influenza occurs when a known influenza strain changes to a new and virulent strain that is readily transmitted from human to human and against which people have little to no immunity. The increase in globalization and urbanization allows new influenza viruses to quickly take hold around the world.
The worst known impacts of pandemic influenza occurred during 1918–1919, when an H1N1 virus killed an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people in Canada and over 20 million people worldwide. In the spring of 2009, the outbreak of H1N1 influenza signaled the first occurrence of a pandemic influenza (WHO phase 6) in over 40 years.
Residents of Oak Bay can reduce the risk of influenza by receiving a flu vaccination every year and practicing basic hygiene, especially frequent hand washing using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The flu vaccination helps your body’s immune system develop protection against current strains of the virus. The antibodies produced help protect the spread of infection or reduce the severity of the illness. The vaccine is updated annually to address the changes in the flu virus. Symptoms of the flu tend to be worse than the ones you get from a cold virus.
Hand washing with soap and warm water is the number one recommended strategy for reducing the spread of influenza and other viruses. If soap and water are not always accessible use a commercial alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wash your hands thoroughly for a minimum of 20 seconds ensuring you clean between the fingers
- Keep your hands away from your face
- Cough and sneeze into your arm or use a tissue. Dispose of the tissue as soon as possible
- Keep common surface areas, doorknobs, light switches, telephones and keyboards clean
Stay home if you’re sick
If you are experiencing influenza like symptoms (fever, cough, congestion, aches, chills, etc), stay home and away from public gatherings or work spaces.
Although it is not always possible to avoid social contact, it is recommended that a distance of one metre (3 feet) be maintained between people to reduce the chances of becoming infected with an air-borne virus.
Municipal Pandemic Planning
The District of Oak Bay will work together with the local Health Authority to distribute timely information and educational materials on influenza and other seasonal viruses promoting safety, response and recovery.
For more information to go FluBC.