NY Health Department: Influenza prevalent in the state

Faith Castro
December 14, 2017

This influenza season, New York has had 1,820 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in 54 counties and all boroughs of New York City.

Louisiana and MS are still experiencing a high number of people with the flu.

"Nobody wants to be the dreaded spreader, so we should all get vaccinated to protect ourselves and to make our surroundings as flu free as possible", he said. Flu activity traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May.

The government recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot.

Saul said he's seen only a few flu cases at Bridgeport Hospital so far this season, but expects it to pick up soon. "February is usually the peak season for numbers to grow". Consequently, the majority of flu cases reported in the USA so far this season have been that H3N2 strain.

"It works more effectively in younger people than in older people, but none the less even if it's only partially effective it's important because even if you get the flu despite getting the vaccine your illness is much more likely to be milder, you are less likely to get the complications", the doctor added. In New York, there were 19 pediatric influenza deaths over the past three seasons and almost 11,200 flu-related hospitalizations each season.

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According to the CDC, past year in 2016, only 41.6 percent of people in Louisiana got a flu vaccine. Reports say that this year's vaccine is only 10% effective. Also, those who get the shot and contract influenza A (H3N2) will likely recover faster than those who don't get vaccinated. Individuals and families without health insurance should check with their county health department to find out if local clinics will be held to provide free or low-priced vaccinations.

Just under 12 percent (11.9) of all influenza tests in the region were positive, with 4 percent of patients reporting influenza-like illness.

People with preexisting conditions such as asthma and heart disease are also at greater risk as are individuals with weakened immune systems due to disease or medications such as chemotherapy or chronic steroid use, public health officials said.

Dr Peter Salama, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said the findings "highlight the importance of influenza prevention for seasonal epidemics, as well as preparedness for pandemics".

The prevalence of the flu prompted the face mask rule, which first went into effect during the 2013-14 influenza season.

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