Flu Prevalence in Erie County Remains High; Surveillance Data Shows Number of New Cases Plateaued

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein

January 13, 2015                        

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 Flu Prevalence in Erie County Remains High

Surveillance Data Shows Number of New Cases Plateaued

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The number of positive tests for influenza (flu) has slowed its dramatic growth says Erie County Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health (ECDOH).  “Our surveillance data shows while flu activity remains high, the growth trend in the number of positive test results appears to have leveled off for now”

ECDOH continues to coordinate with local hospital systems to monitor levels of influenza hospital admissions. “Many of the hospitals have been able to handle the demand for beds for high risk individuals with the flu with their normal staffing and room allocations. The majority of the extra beds that were needed in the past few weeks are no longer needed and the wait times for patients who need to be admitted for continued care has decreased” Burstein added.

ECDOH urges Erie County residents to contact their health care provider before heading to a hospital Emergency Department. For those who do not have a primary care provider and need medical evaluation, seek care at an urgent care center. Emergency Departments remain extremely busy and must be reserved for those severely ill. Most people with the flu will have a mild illness and will not require medical care or treatment with antiviral drugs.

High Risk Individuals It is especially important for certain populations at high risk for serious flu complications to get vaccinated.  People that are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they develop illness with flu, include individuals with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, morbid obesity, and chronic lung disease.

In addition, the high risk category includes:

  • Females who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breast feeding
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who are immunosuppressed where their body’s immune system or ability to fight off infection may be impaired
  • People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications
  • Young children, especially those under 2 years of age
  • Health care providers

Individuals having difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or are dizzy and weak from possible dehydration, should seek medical evaluation immediately. If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, contact your health care provider. Remind them about your high risk status for flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends initiation of antiviral treatment as early as possible (within 48 hours of symptom onset), especially for those at high risk for complications. Antiviral therapies may reduce the severity of illness, decrease the risk of complications (including hospitalization) and shorten the duration of illness.

 “Contact your primary care physician or an urgent care center if you are concerned about your symptoms” said Dr. Burstein. “Emergency Departments should be utilized for emergencies. Typically, flu can be treated at home.”

If you have the flu, stay at home and rest. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Avoid close contact with well people in your house so you do not make them sick.  Drink plenty of liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration) and treat fever and other symptoms with over-the-counter medication.

For more information

Erie County Department of Health - www.erie.gov/health

New York State Department of Health - http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm

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