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Flu season starting early in upstate New York

Lance McCord

The flu is making an early appearance across upstate New York this fall, from the North Country through the Mohawk Valley. With the holiday season approaching, experts say it becomes more important than ever to take precautions.

Jefferson County reported an early outbreak of influenza in Carthage in mid-October. Oneida County is reporting 94 confirmed cases of the flu in the past week along, nearly all of them Type A influenza.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow says the flu season usually peaks in February in upstate New York.  But already, she's seen a sharp increase in the number of lab confirmed cases. Two weeks ago there were ten, and this past week there were 22.

"Typically, when we start seeing flu, it peaks over about eight weeks, and then it is sustained for a little while and then it starts decreasing.  We're still in the early stages of a pretty steep incline," said Morrow. "If we follow the current path, we'll probably peak in December, maybe January."

And that of course coincides with the holidays, which can facilitate the spread of the virus.

"People are going to be close together indoors, obviously with Christmas and the other December holidays.  People need to get their flu shots," she said.

Morrow says the early appearance of the flu doesn't mean this will necessarily be a bad flu season, but a good way to help prevent that is to get vaccinated. And Morrow says there is no shortage of flu vaccine this year, and there are plenty of opportunities to get it at doctors offices and pharmacies.  She also notes that the flu mist vaccine is a good choice for kids. All children over six months are urged to get vaccinated.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.