MANHASSET, NY – This flu season is on pace to be worse than last year’s, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, 24,001 flu tests in the last week of December (the latest numbers available) yielded 7,289 – about 30 percent – positive results. That’s a marked increase from the same week in 2013, when 1,711 of the 6,419 tests – about 27 percent – came back positive.
David Hirschwerk, MD, attending infectious disease physician at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, says the season typically revs up in January and there can be a few spikes, plateaus and dips before the end of the season.
“It’s a little bit worse than it was last season,” Dr. Hirschwerk says. “We’ve had bad flu seasons before and certainly looking back when we had this H1N1 outbreak that was unique in terms of the time of year and how many people were becoming ill, but this has been worse than last year’s season was.”
The New York City area was categorized as having moderate influenza rates in both the last week of December 2014 and the same week in 2013.
Even though the flu season is in full swing, medical professionals such as Dr. Hirschwerk say it is not too late to go get a flu shot. And, he said, despite reports that this year’s shot does not perfectly match the strain of flu circulating, the vaccine might still offer some protection against the flu virus.
Some signs of the flu include:
- Body aches
For those who do not have any health conditions, they can consult their physician if they think they have the flu and get plenty of fluids and rest as well as take Tylenol, Dr. Hirschwerk suggests.
“It’s the individuals who have other underlying medical problems or who have a higher risk of running into complications if they become infected with the flu who really should be in touch with their doctor and get to their doctor’s office,” Dr. Hirschwerk says.