Schuyler County flu cases less than many surrounding areas, Yates double from last year
FINGER LAKES—Schuyler County Public Health is reporting a slight increase in influenza cases, while at the same time Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a Public Health Emergency for all of New York State in response to this year’s flu season.
Schuyler County Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk reports the number of flu cases is up “at least 10 percent” over last winter. She explained the county keeps track of the positively diagnosed influenza cases, but added not everyone who goes to a physician is tested.
“It’s very contagious, even with the vaccine,” said Kasprzyk. There have been no flu-related deaths so far.
However, in neighboring Yates County, officials have reported the number of cases is currently more than double that of last winter. Deb Minor, Yates Public Health director, said so far this winter the department has received notification of 42 positive influenza cases. She said in the 2011-12 winter there were only 16 laboratory confirmed cases.
Kasprzyk added this year’s flu season started earlier than usual: the week prior to Thanksgiving. Kasprzyk said now is usually the time when the season begins.
“It’s been through all of the residential homes, adult homes,” Kasprzyk added. Schuyler Hospital Director of Community Relations Michelle Benjamin said the hospital has not seen an influx of cases this winter.
People are encouraged to get the flu shot if they haven’t already. Schuyler County Public Health will be holding walk-in clinics for flu shots Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. for everyone six months of age and older during the month of January. Cost of the vaccine is $30 or no cost for Medicare, Fidelis and certain eligible children.
Kasprzyk said the vaccinations are available through pharmacies and personal physicians. People should call and check with their pharmacy about the availability of flu shots, because some locations have limited supplies or have run out.
The Red Cross also has steps people can take to prevent the spread of the flu virus during what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says is the worst influenza outbreak in several years in the United States. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses. In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus.
The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children).
If someone in the household does come down with the flu:
• Designate one person as the caregiver and have the other household members avoid close contact with that person so they won’t become sick.
• Make sure the person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone.
• Give plenty of liquids (water and other clear liquids) at the first sign of flu and continue throughout the illness. People with the flu need to drink extra fluids to keep from getting dehydrated.
• Treat fever and cough with medicines that can be purchased at the store. Remember, when children are ill they should never be given aspirin or products containing aspirin—especially with the flu.
• If the person gets very sick, is pregnant or has a medical condition (like asthma) that puts them at higher risk of flu complications, call their doctor. They may need to be examined and might need antiviral medicine to treat the flu.