Early flu season

Posted at: 12/04/2012 5:57 PM
By: Ray Levato

The Rochester area may be in for a tough flu season this year. Officials say they've seen a significant increase in the number of cases so far this year and one person locally has died from complications with the illness.

The Monroe County Health Department says it's seeing a spike in cases of the flu and the flu is showing up here several weeks early. The one person who died is only being identified as an individual over the age of 65. Health officials say in a bad year, upwards of 100 people may die locally from the flu or from complications from the flu

The flu shot clinic at the Italian American Community Center wasn't very busy Tuesday.     Only about 20 people showed up to get vaccinated by 1pm.  That's unlike several years ago when a swine flu pandemic gripped the country and thousands of people jammed clinics all over the county.

Local health officials say one of the three strains this year's flu vaccine will protect against is for swine flu.

John Ricci, Monroe County Health Department said, “People tend to think of it as a single flu shot. But the flu shot each year is comprised of three strains. One of the strains in this year's flu shot and has been for the last two years is H1N1. I think federal health experts wonder and worry if H1N1 can come back.”
The University of Rochester Medical Center wants to study your flu germs.  They actually collect samples from people who are sick with flu. News10NBC spoke with Dr. John Treanor.

Dr. John Treanor, URMC Infectious Disease Division, said, “We have a center at the U.R. which is devoted to understanding how flu viruses make you sick, and how your immune system can get rid of the flu and prevent you from getting sick.”

Dr. Treanor's team is looking for sick people who want to help in the effort to find better vaccines for the flu.

Dr. Treanor said, “What we have right now to prevent the flu is very good. We have flu vaccines that are quite effective. But we need better ones and the race is on to make better flu vaccines.  And that's what we're really all about.”

Back at the flu shot clinic Tuesday, registered nurse Joanna Daeschner said except for people with certain allergies or past illness histories, a flu shot is a must.

Joanna Daeschner said, “Everyone age six months and up should receive a flu shot. It's no longer simply just high risk individuals. Whether immo-compromised or not, pregnant or not. Receiving a flu shot is the best means to prevent the flu.”

If you think you have the flu, other than a doctor's visit, experts say to cover your cough. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and stay home from work or school so you don't infect others. If you're feeling feverish and have respiratory symptoms like cough, congestion, sore throat, you can call the Medical Center's Infectious Disease Division at 273-3990 to see if you qualify for screening for a study on the flu.  This is National Influenza Vaccine Week.