No Christmas present: flu season arrives early

No Christmas present: flu season arrives early

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Health officials in the north country say there are more confirmed cases of the flu this year than there were last year at this time.

“When you look at prior years, it seems to be the uptick seems to be a little earlier than in the past few years,” said Steve Jennings, a health planner at Jefferson County Public Health.

St .Lawrence County has 92 reported flu cases. At this point last year, they only had 6.

In Lewis County there are 23 cases while Jefferson County has 34 cases- both are up from last year.

Peak flu season is usually in the late winter but:

“The week of the 14th was our biggest spike. We had 13 cases,” said Jennings.

Another difference in this year’s flu season is the strain people are getting.

“Normally we see a lot of [strain] A because it tends to cause more of serious infection and [strain] B tends to cause less of an infection however in this area we have seen the strain of [strain] B more often," said Dr. Kwabena Owusu-Boateng with Samaritan Health Center.

Of the reported cases, 69 of those in St .Lawrence County are Influenza B. Lewis County has 18 and Jefferson County has 24.

Although health officials say the numbers are not concerning at the moment, they are reminding people to get the flu shot which vaccinate against both Influenza A and Influenza B.

“You really should be washing your hands, covering your mouth when you’re sneezing. Getting the flu vaccination is like the most important thing you can get,” said Dr. Kwabena Owusu-Boateng.

“It’s not too late. The vaccine is very plentiful and available and people can come to our department or they can go to the physician or they can go to a pharmacy to get it,” said Jennings.

As the flu season continues, health officials say they anticipate more confirmed cases.

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