Influenza is circulating at a high level in Monroe County; 365 cases were confirmed by laboratories as of Dec. 23, 2017, with 109 patients requiring hospitalization.
The actual number likely higher, as physicians sometimes diagnose based on symptoms and do not confirm it with a laboratory test. Flu typically begins to show up in October, and can last through May. It often peaks in January or February.
“While flu has been around for a month or so, it is circulating at a very high level at this time, so Monroe County residents should be particularly cautious now,” said Michael Mendoza, health commissioner. “Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, stay home from work or school if sick and be sure to cover your cough to prevent spreading germs to family and friends. These precautions are particularly important if you have infants or older individuals in your household.”
The contagious viral illness is characterized by fever, body aches, cough and fatigue. While anyone can contract flu, it is most serious for children younger than 2, people ages 65 and older, pregnant women and those with a chronic medical condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease; diabetes; and HIV.
It spreads mainly by droplets when people cough or sneeze. People can spread illness a day before symptoms begin and while they are sick. People typically get sick within one to two days after being exposed.
Flu likely will continue to circulate for several more months, so it is not too late to get vaccinated. Most major pharmacies and physician practices still have vaccine. Flu intensity at this level often results in health care settings — hospitals and nursing homes — implementing visitor restrictions to prevent the spread of illness to patients and staff.