Flu is widespread in New York and Capital Region

Posted at: 01/03/2013 3:30 PM
Updated at: 01/04/2013 1:39 PM
By: Benita Zahn

ALBANY - The flu is making the rounds in the Capital Region.

"I think we're starting to see it picking up," said Jovanna Stepan, a physicians assistant at Albany Medical Center. "It seems to have started a little bit later than what I've seen in the past."

At Albany Med, 105 patients who came in to the emergency department or hospital clinics have tested positive since Dec. 1. Sixty-five were so sick they were admitted to the hospital.

Compare that to 24 people testing positive in all of last year's flu season with 21 admissions.

"And I think that people have forgotten how severe an illness that influenza really is. Young people die every year from influenza," said Dr. Richard Blinkhorn Jr., an infectious disease specialist.

That's why Blinkhorn urges everyone to get the flu vaccine, which he says is a very good match for the viruses causing flu this season. Flu, as he points out, hits hard and fast, not slowly like other respiratory viruses. You'll have fever, shaking and your body will ache from head to toe. That’s not so with other viruses.

"You generally don't have the bad headaches and you generally don't have the overall achiness throughout the body," Blinkhorn said.
Flu can kill. So be alert to shortness of breath. If that happens, get medical treatment as a precaution.

Even two or three days after flu first hits you can still take a turn for the worse as you're susceptible, says Blinkhorn, to a secondary bacterial pneumonia.
"So if you start to get better, day two or three, and all of a sudden you get a fever again or worsening of your cough and start producing secretions, you should contact your health care provider," the doctor said.

In the meantime and all the time, wash your hands to prevent the spread, not only of flu, but all infectious diseases.