HUDSON—If you just woke up from a long winter’s nap hoping to have missed the flu season—you better go back to sleep…till May.
Flu activity here in Columbia County and statewide currently “remains widespread,” according the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which “collects, compiles and analyzes information on influenza activity year round” in the state and produces a weekly report about it during the influenza season which runs October through the following May.
This Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report can be found on the NYSDOH website at: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/surveillance/
Ananthakrishnan Ramani, MD, an infectious disease specialist, researcher and physician based at Mountain View Medical Practice, affiliated with Columbia Memorial Health, told The Columbia Paper by phone this week that the flu arrived here late this season, but now “we have got it in buckets.”
Though he was “running so far behind schedule” in seeing patients at his Catskill office that day, Dr. Ramani took a moment to note the flu has hit “all age groups” this season and “a few are in the hospital right now” with severe cases.
“I advise everyone to be vaccinated,” he said. Those who are planning to visit someone who is sick should “wear a mask or put off the visit.”
“The Columbia County Department of Health as of December 31, 2016 had administered 925 flu shots. We are still giving flu shots and the Health Department has a sufficient supply of flu vaccine for those who are interested in getting the vaccine. There is still time to get a flu shot as the flu will most likely stay widespread for awhile,” Columbia County Department of Health Public Health Director Jack Mabb said in a prepared statement.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity continues to increase in the United States with widespread activity in over 35 states. H3N2 is the predominate strain of influenza and is a good match for the vaccine,” the statement said.
Flu symptoms can mimic a cold, but the county health department says you can tell the difference with the acronym “FACTS,” which stands for Fever, Aches and pains, Cough, Tiredness and fatigue, and Sudden onset of symptoms.
“Some people develop nausea and vomiting as well, but this not as common.”
The influenza vaccine can prevent the flu, said the statement, but it is no guarantee, noted CCDOH spokesperson Patricia Abitabile. “It lessens your chances of getting it and lessens the severity if you do get it.”
To find flu-related information on the NYSDOH website look for the slogan “Don’t let the flu sneak up on you. Get a flu shot today” alongside a putrid-green, bumpy, hairy character.
The Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending January 28, 2017 (the latest one posted) says 61 of the state’s 62 counties in the state reported cases that week.
In this “sixth consecutive week that widespread activity has been reported… there were 5,235 laboratory-confirmed influenza reports,” the highest so far this flu season, and “a 20% increase over last week.”
* 961 patients were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, a 4% increase over last week
* One influenza-associated pediatric death (children younger than 18 years old) was reported this week for a total of four pediatric influenza-associated deaths so far this season. A total of five pediatric influenza-associated deaths were reported for the 2015-16 season.
Of the total 22,083 positive influenza laboratory results reported to the NYSDOH this season, the breakdown by age group is: 0 to 4 years, 4,184; 5 to 17 years, 5,797; 18 to 49 years, 5,155; 50 to 64 years, 2,509 and 65+ years, 4,285.
For the current flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used.
“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications,” according to the CDC.
With three months left in the official flu season it’s not too late to get a flu shot at a doctor’s office or pharmacy. The sooner the better since the shot takes two weeks to become effective, noted Ms. Abitabile at the the county health department.
The CCDOH at 325 Columbia Street, Hudson offers an immunization clinic by appointment only every Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and on the third Tuesday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m. To make an appointment for a flu shot call 518 828-3358.
To contact Diane Valden email moc.r1508804637epapa1508804637ibmul1508804637oc@ne1508804637dlavd1508804637