State Health Department: Flu Widespread in New York

Upstate Infant Death Linked to Flu Complications

ALBANY – February 22, 2007 – The New York State Department of Health today announced that influenza (flu) has been classified as "widespread" in New York based on laboratory confirmed cases and reports of influenza outbreaks in 55 counties including New York City. The death of a four-month-old infant from Oneida County was reported earlier this month from complications resulting from Type A influenza. This is the second childhood death reported this year in New York believed to be related to flu.

"These tragic deaths underscore the serious threat seasonal influenza poses, particularly for the very young, the elderly and anyone with a chronic medical condition," said Acting State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines. "It's not too late to get a flu shot to protect yourself from the flu this year. Local health departments and many health care providers still have flu vaccine."

Immunity against the flu develops two weeks after vaccination, providing protection against the flu for the rest of the flu season, which could last into May. Each year about 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States due to influenza and its complications. Compared to previous years in New York, this flu season there have been more flu-related hospitalizations reported among younger age groups. Children under 19 years of age have comprised 60 percent of this season's flu-related hospitalizations.

Symptoms of influenza are similar to cold symptoms, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced. They can include a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, chills, a severe headache and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. If you have been exposed to someone with influenza, or are experiencing symptoms of influenza, consult with your health care provider immediately to determine if antiviral drugs may be helpful. Treatment with antiviral medications can sometimes lessen the effects of influenza if treatment is started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against influenza.

Those at higher risk for influenza include:

  • Anyone with chronic illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes;
  • Children aged six months to five years old;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Residents of nursing homes;
  • People aged 50 years or older; and,
  • Health care workers and caregivers of high risk persons.

You can also reduce your risk for flu by washing your hands regularly and disinfecting surfaces, such as desktops and telephones. Eating healthy foods, getting enough rest and exercise can also help protect against influenza. For information about a flu clinic in your area, contact your local health department or visit the State Health Department's Web site for general flu information at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/.