The spread of the flu is still a major problem across New York and, sadly, nearly a dozen children have died from the illness.

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Wicked Flu Season

New York health officials say this year's flu season is already a lot worse than years prior. The illness has been widespread across the Empire State over the past three months. Compared to data from 2023, the virus peaked within two months.

Cases are still going strong across the state and especially here in Central New York. During the week ending February 17th, Onondaga County had the highest number of reported flu cases with 448. Oswego County followed with the second highest number of confirmed cases with 224. Oneida County had 203 confirmed cases while Cortland County reported 154.

Sadly, New York health officials confirmed that 11 children have died because of the flu this year. Their ages have not been released.  The State of New Jersey also reported two children, ages 5 and 17, have died because of the flu. One of the deceased had significant health issues.

Keeping Safe from the Flu

Swine Flu Vaccine Testing Begins In Iowa
(Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

Doctors are still recommending that anyone who has yet to receive their flu shot get one immediately due to the uptick in flu cases. They say that is the best method of protection against a virulent year for the virus. 

Health officials also say washing your hands often with soap and warm water is another great defense against the illness. People can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer like purell if soap and water aren't accessible.

During this time, people are advised to avoid touching their face, especially around their nose, eyes and mouth. Those areas can be hotspots for germs and can introduce the flu virus more easily into the body.

Treating the Flu

Sick man lying on sofa checking his temperature
Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/ThinkStock

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

The flu virus normally takes people three to five days to recover. Those with stronger immune systems take less time to bounce back, but those who are elderly or have weakened immune systems may take longer to feel better.

If sick with the flu, doctors say to stay home and avoid contact with other people. Because the flu is spread by a virus, antibiotics will not alleviate symptoms or speed recovery.

Doctors say the best way to heal is to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Health officials urge those who are considered high-risk, or if a fever of 102 or higher doesn't break. Additionally, those experiencing difficulty breathing, severe stomach or chest pain, vertigo, and lightheadedness should immediately seek medical attention.

2024 a Nasty Year for Illnesses


The flu isn't the only sickness terrorizing New Yorkers. The stomach bug, also known as norovirus, has been impacting the Northeast extremely hard. On Wednesday, officials from Colgate University confirmed a possible outbreak of the highly contagious virus.

Read More: Contagious Stomach Bug Slamming Northeast

The CDC said the positivity rate for norovirus is more than 15-percent in the region, which is the highest positivity rate in the entire country.

Based on CDC data, norovirus season on the East Coast typically peaks around mid-March and the first week of April. The virus infects between 19 and 21 million Americans each year.

In addition to norovirus, New York State also reported its first measles case of 2024.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed measles has been detected in 15 states so far in 2024: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

The NYS Department of Health confirmed a measles case in New York City, which is bolstering fears of the illness spreading deeper upstate.

There is concern of continued spread leading to more cases here in New York State and so we are raising awareness about signs and symptoms of measles to quickly identify the disease and prevent transmission.

Statistically, 1 out of 4 people who get measles will be hospitalized while 1 out of 1,000 individuals will develop brain swelling (encephalitis). Additionally, 1 out of every 1,000 measles cases result in death.

Read More: New York Reports First Measles Case of 2024

Doctors are also warning about the spread of COVID-19, RSV and other respiratory illnesses.

To keep yourself healthy, it's encouraged to engage in regular hand-washing and to keep your fingers off your face until these illnesses trend in the other direction.

Also, it might not be a bad idea to stock up on items like saltine or non-flavored crackers, Gatorade/Powerade, chicken noodle soup, apple sauce, bananas, tea, pastina pasta, and painkillers - just in case.

You'd rather have them handy should the unfortunate happen then having to battle one of these nasty illnesses without the extra comfort.

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