The health team reports there are 89 lab-confirmed cases of influenza but suggests this number could be greater since many sufferers don't seek medical care. That's up slightly from 51 hospitalizations during the previous week.
"We're seeing a very active flu season and early signs that the season may be severe", Dan Jernigan, MD, of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said at a news briefing.
During the 2016-2017 flu season, DPHHS said it recorded 829 hospitalizations and 56 deaths related to influenza.
Seven children died from the flu last week, bringing the total pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC this season up to 20. "You can be a carrier and not ever get sick", said Procyshyn. Across the country, more than 80 percent of cases this season involve a different, nastier strain, H3N2 - the same strain that plagued Australian during its flu season.
When comparing this year to last year, there is a significant difference, said Rains. Still, even when the flu vaccine is "less effective", it's a good bet. The CDC is expecting this year's vaccine to be 30% effective.
In October, the Health Department launched a citywide awareness campaign, "I Got My Flu Shot.Not the Flu", reminding New Yorkers that the flu vaccine is the best protection. "People typically have a high fever, chills, cough, and body aches", Harris said.
"We're seeing a tremendous number of patients and we have not seen it slow down yet", said Dr. John Goldman. Cleaning crews are now working overtime to sanitize the schools.
The flu is affecting people over 65 years of age the most and there have been 54 reported flu deaths in Canada this season, the FluWatch report said. As the flu is a viral infection, antibiotic drugs are completely useless against it, and antiviral drugs only serve to make symptoms potentially milder or shorter.
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The increase could possibly be explained by fewer children getting flu vaccinations.
The state's acting state health officer Scott Harris said on Friday that while this is the normal season of the flu, the numbers are large. Preliminary estimates suggested the vaccine barely worked there, and the USA was again facing the same H3N2 virus with the same flu shot. Everyone 6 months of age and older needs a seasonal flu vaccine every year.
For more information about where to get vaccinated, call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text "flu" to 877877. TDH offered the following tips on ways to slow the spread of flu.
Tamiflu, on the other hand, which comes in capsules, costs between $50 and $60 before insurance and requires a prescription, and generally reduces the length of time someone is sick with the flu by a couple days.
"Flu can kill and it is important we take it seriously".
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.