‘Flu ramping up’ in Upstate New York

The latest weekly report from New York state health officials shows flu cases up nearly 50 percent statewide — an upward trend that is expected to continue.


“We are seeing flu ramping up,” said Mary Beer, Ontario County Public Health director. Flu season hasn’t peaked locally — it’s much more active downstate, Beer said in an email. But with kids back in school from holiday break, it presents a perfect storm for the annual scourge of flu.

Though Beer had not heard of a surge in area hospitals, “it’s coming,” she added.

At UR Medicine Thompson Health, most of the cases seen so far this season have been in outpatient settings, said Kurt Koczent, Thompson Health executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“To date, we have only had four people with the flu admitted to the hospital as inpatients. In fact, at this point, we are seeing more cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) than we are flu,” said Koczent in an email. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

“This past Friday, our report from the state had this year’s flu season trending on par with last year,” said Koczent. “It is unknown if there will be a steep incline in confirmed flu cases as there was last year. It is still too early to tell. The best advice we can give is to get your flu shot, stay home if you are ill, and wash your hands,” he said.

In late January last year, Thompson Health saw triple the number of patients testing positive for flu compared with the previous year. Cases had reached 261 as of Jan. 21, 2018, compared with 93 cases as of that date the previous year. The 2017/2018 flu season was particularly bad. As of Jan. 18, 2018, the weekly rate of New Yorkers hospitalized with influenza was the highest it had ever been since the state Department of Health began reporting in 2004.

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