There have also been cases of H1N1 virus, which caused a pandemic in 2009, cropping up this season.This year's flu outbreak is one of the worst in 10 years, according to experts — and a quick glance around your half-empty office.With three more months to go, the season “is stacking up to be moderate to severe,” said Tom Skinner of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In the past 10 years we have seen just two or three like it.” Already, the virus has been reported in 41 states — 29 of which are reporting high or “severe” levels. In New York State, flu cases are skyrocketing. During last year’s entire flu season, only 4,400 cases were reported. So far this season, there have been more than 15,000 — an increase of close to 250%. And hospitalizations are up 169% from the same period last year. Eighteen children have died nationwide, including one from central New York.
Manhattan pediatrician Dr. Shulamite Kon is on the front lines, with an office filling up with flu patients. Children and teens, plus the elderly, are most susceptible to this year’s common strain, H3N2. Her advice: “Don’t send your kids to school if they are sick. And get them vaccinated.” “The kids who have been immunized and still get the flu have lighter symptoms,” added Kon. “It seems to give protection.” There have also been cases of the H1N1 virus, which caused a pandemic in 2009, and influenza B, which can be treated with this year’s vaccine.
But New Yorkers can be a stubborn lot, even when brought to their knees by the illness. Orlando Leyba, a 44-year-old doorman on the upper West Side, hobbled into Dr. Seth Feltheimer’s office Monday feeling like he was at death’s door. Feltheimer’s diagnosis: The flu. “I feel so sick, my body aches. I have fever, and I am trembling,” said Leyba. “Usually, I am a strong guy, a healthy guy,” he said. But he demurred when asked if he’d get a flu shot this year. “Maybe,” he said. A Health Department spokesman said Leyba is a poor role model for his neighbors. “Influenza activity in New York City is continuing to increase — and all New Yorkers should receive a flu shot this year,” said the spokesman, Sam Miller. Leyba’s doctor agreed, saying in a city like New York, you can run from flu, but you can’t hide. “As New Yorkers, we work close together, we ride together in the subways, we eat in restaurants and cafeterias together, and given such a large and dense population we can easily spread the influenza virus to one another,” Feltheimer said. “It's not too late to get a flu shot now.” California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wisconsin, are actually reporting low or minimal levels of influenza.
WANT TO STAY HEALTHY?
Dr. Seth Feltheimer, an internist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, offers these tips for avoiding, treating and dealing with the flu: * Sanitize your hands often with Purel or an alcohol-based product. Soap does not kill viruses. * Wipe down shared work or household objects such as telephones, keyboards, computer mice, and TV and stereo remote controls with Lysol. * Avoid people who are coughing. * Open the windows at home or in your workplace. The breeze can carry away the air droplets containing the virus. * If you are sick with the flu, stay home in bed, rest and avoid contact with others. Don't be a martyr at work. You will just get other people infected and prolong your illness. * Get a flu shot. This year's vaccine matches the virus going around and can help prevent you ever getting the flu, or if you do, it can lessen the severity of your illness. *Call your doctor if you have had a flu shot, but get sick anyway. Additional medications will make the illness easier and milder.
For information on where you can receive a flu shot in Oklahoma, or other flu related information, go to Oklahoma/Flu.gov