The number of flu cases in New York is higher than last year. Here are tips on how to prevent and how to identify symptoms.
By COLlive reporter
New York State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah says more than 19,000 flu cases have been reported this year, compared to just over 4,000 last year, AP reports.
Shah said two children died from the flu in New York and it's not too late to get shots to protect against the disease, the news agency said.
Since New York began its annual seasonal flu surveillance this fall, influenza cases have been reported in 47 counties and the five boroughs of New York City.
Flu season generally runs from October through May.
Symptoms of influenza can include the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. These symptoms are often similar to cold symptoms, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced.
Although most people will usually recover from flu without complications, the virus poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than age two, those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.
Commissioner Shah reminds New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated for influenza that it's not too late to get their annual vaccination.
Here are some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Roche, the maker of Tamiflu:
• COLDS: Usual symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Coughs are hacking and productive. It's unusual to have fever, chills, headaches and body aches, and if they do occur, they are mild.
• FLU: Fever is usually present, along with chills, headache and moderate-to-severe body aches and tiredness. Symptoms can come on rapidly, within three to six hours. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are less common.
• PREVENTION: To avoid colds and flu, wash your hands with warm water and soap after you've been out in public or around sick people. Don't share cups or utensils. And get a flu vaccination — officials say it's not too late, even in places where flu is raging.
• TREATMENT: People with colds or mild cases of the flu should get plenty of rest and fluids. Those with severe symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, should see a doctor and may be prescribed antiviral drugs or other medications. Children should not be given aspirin without a doctor's approval.