Modified: May 23, 2022 1:56pm

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Erie County Department of Health encourages preventive measures
against flu transmission

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is sharing a recent health advisory from the New York State Department of Health related to statewide influenza activity. This advisory was sent to public and private schools.

NYSDOH conducts routine influenza surveillance each October through May. Influenza is unpredictable; and while it is not uncommon for influenza activity to extend into late spring, current activity remains elevated and widespread. Therefore, NYSDOH is extending the surveillance season beyond May until influenza activity has decreased.

Surveillance data has shown an unusual bimodal [two peaks in activity] distribution of influenza activity during the 2021-22 season. Following consistent declines during January and low rates in February, laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and hospitalizations have been steadily rising since March with significant increases in lab-confirmed cases occurring throughout April. It is unknown if activity will remain at high levels or continue to increase in the upcoming weeks.

“NYSDOH data on reported flu cases typically show a steady decline throughout the spring season,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “This year, spring reports of influenza are higher than in previous years, and this increase in reports follows a decrease at the tail end of winter.”

“Flu is still circulating here in Erie County. Despite being near the end of a typical flu season, a flu vaccine may still reduce the risk of severe illness,” she continued. “Flu symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms, and the preventive measures are also similar.”

Influenza A viruses cause disproportionately more illness among young children and older adults. Since the start of the current influenza season, 100,656 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and more than 5,600 hospitalizations have been reported, with 59% of all laboratory-confirmed cases occurring in persons aged 0–17 years and 42% of hospitalizations in persons aged 65 and older.

The NYSDOH advisory encouraged these preventive measures to reduce the risk of influenza transmission in schools and other settings:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects
  • All persons aged 6 months and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Influenza vaccine for the 2021-22 season can be given through June 30, 2022.
Graph showing positive influenza lab results in NYS across 2018-2021 flu seasons, with "double peak" in 2021-2022