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Stay health: Here are flu travel tips for Canadian families

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    Thursday, July 25, 2013, 4:51 PM - It's flu season and the Public Health Agency of Canada is reminding families to take precautions to help keep loved one's healthy when travelling.

    Children are more likely than adults to catch the flu when they are exposed. It is recommended to take the following preventative measures to ensure cold and flu germs do not spread throughout the entire family.

    Some countries have put into place screening measures to check for symptoms of the flu among arriving passengers. You should consult the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) for further information on whether the country your family is travelling to/from has established screening measures.

    Where is Influenza a concern? Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. •In the northern hemisphere the flu season usually runs from November to April. There may still be occasional cases or outbreaks at any time of the year.
    •     In the southern hemisphere the flu season is between April and October.
    •     In the tropics influenza is a concern year round.

    Adults and children are advised to consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before travelling. 

    1. Get vaccinated
    •     This is the most effective way to protect yourself and your children from the flu. 

    2. Avoid getting the flu or spreading it to others
    •     a. Wash your hands frequently and teach your child how to wash properly:
        •     i. By washing your hands with soap under warm running water, you will reduce your chance of getting the flu.

        •     ii. Alcohol-based hand gel can also be used if soap and water are not readily available. It’s a good idea to keep some with you in your pocket or purse. 

    •     b. Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
            Cover your mouth and nose with your arm, not your hand, to reduce the spread of germs. Remember to wash your hands afterwards.

    •     c. Avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.

    •     d. See your health care provider before you or your child travels to discuss:
        •     i. Whether you or your child is up-to-date with routine vaccinations and what vaccines are needed for the destination.
        •     ii. What you should do if you are at risk of severe illness from the flu virus. At risk groups include children less than five years of age (especially those less than two years old), pregnant women, persons with morbid obesity and chronic conditions such as
                diabetes, asthma and lung disease

    3. What to do if you get sick
    •     a. Stay in your accommodations or hotel (while travelling) or at home (if back in Canada) and avoid contact with others until you are symptom free and able to participate fully in regular activities.
    •     b. If you are travelling in, or return from a country where malaria is present and you develop flu-like symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
    •     c. Wash your hands frequently.
    •     d. Cough and sneeze into your arm and not your hand.
    •     e. If you are sick and must go out, consider wearing a mask if one is available, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the community.
    •     f. Be aware of the possibility, in certain countries, of isolation and quarantine.
    •     g. A list of physicians can be obtained through the nearest Canadian Embassy or consulate. A listing of these establishments can be accessed through the web site of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).
    •     h. Should your symptoms worsen:
    •     Before seeking medical attention, it is recommended that you call ahead to your health care provider or urgent care facility to inform them of your symptoms and your recent travel history.

    Information courtesy of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
    For more information on influenza(the flu), visit:

    FightFlu.ca - Information for you and your family

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