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Flu could be worse this season as cases rise in central NY, across state

Lance McCord

The central New York region has the highest rate of flu cases in the state, so far this season. Officials said the virus this year, could be worse than usual.

Central New York had more than 25 flu cases per 100,000 people in the last week of 2017, well above the rate it had a year ago. Onondaga County has more than 470 laboratory confirmed cases this season; also up significantly from this time last year. Dr.  Quoc Nguyen is the medical doctor for the Onondaga County Health Department. He said it could be a long flu season ahead for residents across the state.

“The vaccine efficacy is lower than expected," Nguyen said. "The disease is somewhat more severe than compared to other strains of viruses.”

Nguyen said if you have not gotten the flu yet, wash your hands, avoid sick people, and remember it is still not too late to get a flu vaccine.

“We know that the flu vaccine may not be perfect but at least that’s the best thing we have right now,” Nguyen said. "If you have the flu, you try to stay home when you still have the fever so you don't give it to other people. Keep on washing your hands. Try to sneeze into your elbow. Do not go back to work until at least the fever breaks in a day or so without using medication to control the fever."

He said the people who are most at risk, the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions, should seek medical attention quickly if they get the flu.

“There are a few medications that can alleviate the symptoms and make you feel better quickly and cut short the disease," Nguyen said. "The earlier you take the medication, the better off you will be.”

The flu is also hitting Oswego County early this year, with more than 100 confirmed cases.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.