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Local News

January 11, 2013

Flu marches through the area

New York state recorded fewer influenza cases last week for the first time since mid-November, but the decline was small, and the illness was reported in every one of the state’s counties, according to data released Thursday by the state Health Department.

The Health Department said flu was “widespread” and reported the state’s second pediatric flu fatality for the season, which started Oct. 1. The state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not track adult deaths.

Regional officials reported elevated rates, but, for the most part, nothing suggesting an emergency.

“We have seen flu rise,” said Kathy Giunta-Lenci of Delaware Valley Hospital in Walton. “It started in December. For the month of December, I’ve only really had four admissions to the hospital due to the flu. We have seen some other cases of it, and we are seeing it in the (emergency department). But fortunately I feel we’re not at crisis level like some areas of the county are and some of the state.”

Nevertheless, health officials say that it’s not too late to receive a vaccine. Flu season typically extends into late March.

“We do have flu vaccine available, and we are encouraging those within Otsego County to be vaccinated,” said Theresa Oellrich, communicable disease coordinator for the county.

Otsego residents who want to be vaccinated can call 547-4230 to set up an appointment. The charge is $25, except for seniors covered by Medicare part B, for whom the vaccine is free.

Oellrich said that Otsego had 125 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu for the season as of Wednesday, adding that the county’s first case wasn’t recorded until Nov. 2, which is “very late.”

“We’ve seen an increase, I’d say, in the last week and a half,” she said.

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