December 13, 2012
First flu cases hit county
But Cortland is one of last counties in state to see illness
Cortland County is one of the last in the state to report seeing cases of influenza, Health Department Director Catherine Feuerherm said Monday.
Feuerherm said that last week, four young adults and one older adult in the county came down with the flu. This week the flu has started appearing in children, she said.
The county is seeing cases of the flu earlier than last year, said Feuerherm, stressing the importance of getting vaccinated, something that is recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months.
“We’ve done a brief survey of local providers and they have confirmed that uptake has not been tremendous this year,” she said. “A lot of people have not sought out the flu vaccine.”
Feuerherm said the vaccine is a “good match” on the several strains that are circulating.
Many providers are out of the vaccine, however, and the public clinics the county was running for the uninsured or underinsured are over. Feuerherm said people should contact their physicians to get vaccinated and if their doctor is out of the vaccine and not ordering more, to check with their local pharmacy.
“There’s a good supply at pharmacies locally but they don’t take all insurance,” said Feuerherm.
Feuerherm said the county would be offering more public flu clinics if there is a call for it in the community. The clinics were targeting the uninsured and underinsured populations, setting up at the Salvation Army, food pantries and the like.
Of those who have tested positive this year, most have not been vaccinated, Feuerherm said.
“Those who were vaccinated experienced only mild symptoms,” she said.
Physician assistant Susan Jewett at Dr. Mohammad Djafari’s office on Kennedy Parkway in Cortland said the office saw its first diagnosed case of the flu Friday. This week the office has seen several cases of the flu in children ranging from ages 4 to 15, she said.
All the cases have been in unvaccinated children and she urged anyone who has not been vaccinated to do so promptly.
There are proactive measures people can take as well.
“We also encourage patients who think they may have the flu to contact their provider promptly because there are medications that can help to shorten the duration and decrease the severity of the illness,” Jewett said.
Tamiflu is the most common prescription medication and most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, she said.
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