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Local News

January 11, 2013

Flu marches through the area


Like much of the United States, New York has experienced a surge in confirmed flu cases since early December. The state Health Department reported 4,059 confirmed cases statewide in the week ending Jan. 5, 7 percent less than the previous week, when cases peaked — at least so far — at 4,348.

The “confirmed” is important because not everyone with an upper respiratory illness is tested for flu. Indeed, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes a second category, influenza-like illnesses, or ILIs, in its weekly reports.

In Chenango County, 220 cases, with no fatalities, had been confirmed, compared with 30 for the entire season in 2011-12, Marianne Kirsch, director of patient services for the county Health Department, wrote in an email. Last season’s first case wasn’t reported until January, she said.

The age range of confirmed cases this season has been two months to 100 years old, she added.

Chenango residents older than six months can receive free vaccines by calling 337-1660, she said, explaining that earlier fees had been waived because of the increased number of cases.

Broome County had 439 confirmed cases as of last Friday, a county health official said. It had its first confirmed case Oct. 21.

At some area hospitals, the numbers of cases peaked in mid or late December.

“While the flu appears to be prevalent in the area, at Bassett Medical Center we are not yet seeing a significant spike in cases,” said Ruth Blackman, director of quality resources management at the Cooperstown hospital.

“Our peak number of patients hospitalized with flu was five a week three weeks ago. For the last two weeks, it was four each week.”

Joanne Gleba, director of patient services at Cobleskill Regional Hospital said the hospital had five confirmed cases — all in December, before the holidays.

“Since I last checked about a week ago, there haven’t been any new ones,” she said.

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