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Orleans sees 5-fold increase in flu

Posted 2 February 2018 at 5:30 pm

Health Department recommends vaccine, other precautions

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Alert: Over the last few weeks, flu cases are on the rise locally and throughout New York. The flu virus tends to spread from October to May, with most cases occurring in January or February.

“It is important to note that vaccinations can be given at any time during the flu season,” said Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “Even getting a vaccination later in the season (December through March) can still help protect you from influenza.

Locally, Orleans County has 131 confirmed flu cases from Sept. 1, 2017 through Feb. 1, 2018. Last year during this same time period there were 26 confirmed cases.

“Flu vaccine is still available locally, but we recommend you call your medical provider, pharmacist or the health department to make sure they have a supply of flu vaccine in stock before going,” Bedard said.

Everyone six months and older should be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu, and it can help protect the ones you love.

Flu-related complications can result in hospitalization and occasionally result in death. Complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus or ear infections. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, those who have asthma, often experience more asthma attacks when they are ill with the flu.

“Everyone can play a part in preventing the spread of the flu,” Bedard said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages everyone to follow “Take 3” actions to fight the flu:

1. Take time to get a flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccination can reduce flu illness, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalization.

2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

a. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

b. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

c. If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, unless you need to get medical care or for other necessities.

d. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  If no tissue, cough or sneeze in your elbow making sure your mouth and nose are covered by your sleeve.

e. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

f. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

g. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

It is important to remember if your symptoms worsen to talk with your primary care provider or if you are having trouble breathing or are unable to keep food and water down to go to the emergency room or urgent care center.

More information about the flu is available at the State Health Department website by clicking here.

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