Tonawanda News

January 3, 2014

Area flu cases increase

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The number of reported flu cases in Erie County is on the rise, health officials said in a statement released Thursday.

“In the past two weeks, reported cases of influenza have jumped significantly,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein. 

New York is one of 10 states reporting geographically widespread cases of the flu. Although the majority of those falling ill are between the age of 18 and 49, anyone who hasn’t received the vaccination is at risk of becoming sick.

Burstein is reminding residents it’s not too late to receive the flu vaccine, and everyone that is at least six months old should receive it.

Even those who have already had the flu can benefit from the vaccine, as it provides against three different strains.

“While the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it offers the best protection we have against this very serious disease,” she said in the statement.

Flu season can last until May, and until the season is over it is never too late to receive the vaccine, she said. Influenza can lead to severe respiratory illness, and in some cases can be fatal. 

“Frequent hand-washing is the most important health tip for all of us to remember so that we don’t spread illness. Wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food,” Burstein said.

Certain populations are at an increased risk of serious complications from the flu, and should be vaccinated. They include people 65 and older, those with chronic diseases such as asthma or morbid obesity, pregnant women, young children under the age of 2 and health care providers.