HOPEWELL — Ontario County has confirmed the first influenza cases of the season.
Mary Beer, the county’s director of public health, said the number of flu cases is on the rise nationwide. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holiday travel and family celebrations likely will add to the problem.
“We have only seen a couple of confirmed cases locally, and it’s sporadic across the state, but we wanted to get the word because it’s not too late for people to get their flu shot,” Beer said. “Both A and B strains of flu have been detected. Currently, most circulating strains match this season’s flu vaccine.”
Children are at high risk for complications from influenza, especially those younger than 2. Adults over 65, pregnant women, and people with a medical history of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV or AIDS, and cancer are at high risk too.
Beer said the best protection against flu is vaccination. The 2017-18 inoculation includes protection from two types of flu A and one or two types of flu B, depending on the vaccine.
“This is a pretty typical time for the flu to start showing up. After the holidays it will really pick up,” Beer said. “Unvaccinated individuals should seek out flu vaccine from their health care provider or local pharmacy. Residents with illnesses compatible with influenza should contact their health care provider.”
The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older. Additional strategies to prevent the flu include frequent hand washing, or when not available alcohol-based hand gels; avoiding contact with sick people; covering coughs and sneezes; and staying home from school, holiday parties and work when ill.
Flu symptoms usually occur suddenly and may include a headache, fever, chills, body and muscles aches, severe fatigue, congestion and cough. Antiviral medications may shorten the length of the illness and severity of its symptoms.
“Even if you do get the flu after getting a shot, the symptoms are generally not as harsh,” she said.