Influenza cases are on the rise
YATES COUNTY--Influenza is widespread in the United States and the region. Yates County Public Health Director Deborah Minor said as of Friday, Jan. 2, there have been 25 lab confirmed cases in Yates County, with several other possible cases going without a lab test. She said last year at this time, there were three to five lab confirmed cases of the flu. Minor said this increase is in part due to the dominant strain of flu not being matched well with the vaccine this year, adding the flu season is peaking slightly earlier than it has in previous years.
In New York since Dec. 20, 2014, laboratory confirmed cases of flu have increased by 90 percent. Hospitalizations for flu are up 139 percent. Most flu samples (78 percent) typed by the CDC to date are influenza A (H3N2). Of these, 33 percent are of the type included in the 2014-15 influenza vaccine; 67 percent are not. During a flu season when illness is widespread and vaccine match is less than optimal, Yates County Public Health encourages the public to employ additional strategies to prevent illness.
Yates County Public Health says residents should get a flu shot. Though the flu strain currently causing the majority of illness is not a match to the vaccine, obtaining a flu shot is still a priority. Other strains covered by this year's vaccine are also present in the community and as the flu season progresses, these strains may become more prevalent.
To prevent transmission of influenza, those who are ill should stay home from work, school, and community events; cover coughs and sneezes; wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based rubs; and seek medical advice concerning medications (antivirals) which may lessen their symptoms.
Individuals who are well should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based rubs; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth; and if possible avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at increased risk for severe flu illness. In addition to the above recommendations, these individuals should discuss the appropriateness of antiviral treatment after known exposure to the flu with their healthcare provider.
Influenza is a serious illness that can be deadly. Rates of illness are currently high. Members of the community are encouraged to seek out vaccine, practice good hand hygiene, stay home while ill, and discuss the use of antivirals with their healthcare provider. For more information, go to the Yates County Public Health website at www.yatescounty.org or call 315-536-5160.