The number of local flu cases has been rising significantly in the past several weeks. From October 2017 through the week ending January 7, 2018, 657 cases of flu have been reported to the Onondaga County Health Department (OCHD). Emergency rooms of local area hospitals are reporting more cases of flu or influenza like illnesses (ILI) along with a high number of flu-associated hospitalizations.
Flu is a viral respiratory infection that causes fever, aches, and coughing. It spreads from one person to another by cough droplets or by direct contact with someone who has the flu. Most healthy adults can infect others 1 day before symptoms appear and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Young children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for an even longer time.
The current prevalent circulating virus is flu A (H3N2), a strain which is included in this year's vaccine. In the past, A(H3N2)-predominant flu seasons have been associated with more severe illness, especially in persons aged 65 years and older and young children. In addition, in previous seasons influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) has been lower against A(H3N2) than against influenza A(H1N1) or influenza B viruses.
Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta strongly urges county residents to take steps to protect themselves and others against the flu:
- Practice precautions to stop the spread of flu infection: If you are sick, stay home until you are free of fever for at least one day. Practice social distancing, cover your cough and sneeze, and wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Call your healthcare provider immediately if you think you have the flu, especially if you are at high risk to develop severe complications such as very young or old ages, chronic lung disease, asthma, diabetes, or if you are obese or pregnant. Do not go to the Emergency Department or Prompt Care unless your symptoms are severe or you are told by your physician to go there.
- Prevent flu by getting vaccinated: Anyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot. Getting the flu shot is one of the most important ways to protect against influenza. It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine.
Please contact your healthcare provider if you have not received a flu shot. Onondaga County Health Department also provides free flu shots for uninsured and underinsured Onondaga County residents every Wednesday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon in room 30 of the John H. Mulroy Civic Center. Call 315-435-2000 for more information.
For weekly flu data updates, visit our website: www.ongov.net/health/fluandpneumonia.html