Flu season is in full swing in the Hudson Valley, with dozens of reported cases currently being treated by doctors in the area.
Officials from the New York State Health Department announced this week that the flu is spreading rapidly throughout the state, with some hospitals reportedly limiting visitation to prevent the spread of the virus.
Flu season kicks off in earnest in October each year, though patients can still be susceptible to certain strains in September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said that reported cases tend to increase in November before peaking between December and February. Flu season typically lasts through the middle of the spring. The organization estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States and several deaths. Of those illnesses, an estimated 9 percent were hospitalized.
In the Hudson Valley, there are currently 214 reported cases in Westchester County, with Rockland (67 reported cases), Orange County (50), Dutchess (33) and Putnam (16) trailing behind. Statewide, there have been 3,681 cases reported as of Saturday, Jan. 5.
A complete dashboard tracking flu cases in New York from the Department of Health can be found
The Department of Health noted that “influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Seasonal flu epidemics occur yearly during the colder months. Although the yearly impact of influenza varies, it affects the health of New Yorkers each season.
“Most people who get sick with flu will have mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks without medical care. Some people, such as older adults, young children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and people with asthma, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, are more likely to develop flu-related complications.”
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, though there is still time to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.
According to the CDC, the flu infects the respiratory tract. “As the infection progresses, the body’s immune system responds to fight the virus.
This results in inflammation that can trigger respiratory symptoms such as a cough and sore throat. The immune system response can also trigger fever and cause muscle or body aches.
When infected people cough, sneeze, or talk, they can spread influenza viruses in respiratory droplets to people who are nearby. People might also get flu by touching a contaminated surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
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