January 18, 2022

Flu cases on the rise

Cortland County sees more than 100 cases this season

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Kinney Drug Pharmacist Nicholas Stevens gives a woman her flu shot Friday afternoon at the pharmacy on Route 281 in Cortlandville. Cortland County has had more than 100 cases of the flu so far and health officials are urging people to get the flu shot if they haven’t had one yet.

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, Cortland County had 104 laboratory confirmed cases of the flu since December.

By 1:30 p.m. Thursday, that number rose by another 14 cases, according to a county Health Department official.

“Fourteen in one day is significant,” said Lisa Perfetti, the county’s director of community health services.

But the number of flu cases in the county could be even higher than that, Perfetti said, noting the county’s number doesn’t count people who went to their physician and were just treated or stayed home and treated themselves.

Cayuga County had 156 cases between Oct. 1 and Wednesday, according to a news release issued Friday by the Cayuga County Health Department.

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, as well as the whole Guthrie system, has seen an in flux in both strains influenza A and B, said nurse practitioner Genevieve Romano.

Since Dec. 16, five people have tested positive for the flu as they were admitted to the hospital, but “as far as hospitalizations, this is difficult to determine, because the physician diagnosis may not be influenza,” said Maria Whitaker, the infection preventionist for the hospital Friday in an email.

She said it is often times diagnosed as pneumonia instead.

Romano said the number of people diagnosed with influenza A this season is almost four times higher than last year and the number of positive influenza B cases is also much higher. Typically influenza B, which predominately affects people from birth to age 25, isn’t seen until much later in the season, usually in March or April. However, Romano said it popped up a lot earlier.

She also said there is usually one dominant flu strain that will continue throughout the season, followed by waves of other strains. Not this year.

“We’re seeing four different strains in New York State at high levels,” Romano said, noting that’s a national trend as well.

Because the flu is so unpredictable, Romano said it’s too early to tell what might be the cause of higher numbers.

Flu symptoms

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches n Pains
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Fatigue nNausea, vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms seen mainly in children.

Source: Guthrie Cortland Medical Cen- ter Nurse Practitioner Genevieve Romano

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be able to determine whether this season’s vaccine was sufficiently effective after the season ends. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu circulates all year, “most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.”

But even if it was effective, “the flu vaccine is not 100%,” Romano said, noting they have seen some people still get the flu. However, those who get the vaccine and still get the flu don’t get symptoms as severe as those who had not gotten the shot.

“Vaccination really remains the best practice,” Romano said. “If people haven’t gotten their flu shot, they still can.”

People can get it through their primary care physician or at most local pharmacies.

If people think they have the flu, they can go to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center’s 3993 West Road walk-in facility, which does rapid testing on site, evaluates the patient and prescribes treatment.

Cayuga Clinic Walk-in at Kinney Drugs on Route 281 in Cortlandville also helps people who have the flu, according to Cayuga Medical Associate’s website.

People can also see their primary care physician.

Romano said anyone is welcomed, including people who don’t have insurance.

“Flu is out there and circulating,” Perfetti said. “People need to do their best to protect themselves.”

Preventing the flu

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay active.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat healthy food.

Source: National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention