Flu cases on the rise in Finger Lakes

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Influenza is widespread in the United States and the region. 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 2014-2015 influenza vaccine; 67 percent are not. During a flu season when illness is widespread and vaccine match is less than optimal, the public is encouraged to employ additional strategies to prevent illness.

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.