The flu has arrived in Nova Scotia. So far this year, three cases of influenza, commonly known as the flu, have been reported. Laboratory tests confirm a case in Windsor, Yarmouth and Halifax. “Given that these cases are spread out over a large portion of the province, we can say the flu is here and it will spread over the coming days and weeks,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief public health officer. “Taking preventive action is still the best way to protect yourself against infection.” Nova Scotians can take several simple steps to avoid the flu. There is still time to get a flu shot. Frequent and thorough hand-washing is also an effective way to prevent a whole range of infectious diseases, including influenza. The vaccine is available through family doctors. It is free for many Nova Scotians, including pregnant women; people 65 or older; babies age six to 23 months, adults and children with chronic diseases; anyone living with someone 65 or older or someone with a chronic illness; all health-care workers and students in a health-care program; police and firefighters; and anyone who lives in a chronic or long-term care facility. “If you do become ill, it’s important to cough and sneeze into your sleeve, and to avoid face-to-face contact with other people,” said Dr. Strang. “People should also stay home until the symptoms are gone, and it’s especially important to stay away from hospitals and long term-care facilities.” Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, cough, sore throat, joint aches and muscle aches. For more information, consult the Health Promotion and Protection website at www.gov.ns.ca/hpp, www.fightflu.ca , or a public health office.