Flu folly: Seasonal flu is serious, but many are unaware they are at high risk for major complications, and unsure about what to do if they get sick

Recent poll of at-risk Canadians shows they don't have all the facts

TORONTO, November 25, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - You're burning hot one minute, and freezing cold the next; you feel achy from your head to your toes; and that box of tissues barely lasts you an hour. Although you washed your hands meticulously and loaded up on Vitamin C, you realize it was inevitable: you are one of the eight million Canadians to contract the seasonal flu this year.

While the flu is a pain for most - days in bed and hours lost from work - for some it can be much more serious. In fact, certain populations, including people 65 and older, pregnant women and those with a chronic illness such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are at an increased risk of developing serious complications from the flu. In some instances - up to 8,000 cases in Canada each year - the flu can be fatal.

A recent poll of at-risk Canadians sponsored by the Ontario Lung Association reveals that while many Ontarians recognize how serious seasonal influenza can be, most aren't taking the proper steps to protect themselves. Surprisingly, many at-risk Canadians don't even realize that they are at increased risk of complications for "the flu" and brush it off as "no big deal."

"The flu is extremely common, especially during this time of year, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored," says Dr. Anthony D'Urzo, Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. "Canadians who may be at increased risk of complications from the flu need to be particularly vigilant - and that means knowing what to do as soon as symptoms appear."