PLATTSBURGH — Influenza continues to hit New York and the North Country hard, with the state Department of Health reporting widespread flu activity.
During the week ending Jan. 5, the department said laboratory-confirmed influenza was reported in all 57 counties plus New York City, and there were 4,059 total reports. Scores of cases have been confirmed in the North Country.
Dr. Dan Larson, a family physician with Hudson Headwaters Health Network, said they’re experiencing many more flu cases than average at their network of health centers in the North Country.
“It’s way more than normal. To me in numbers it’s the most we’ve seen in many years, and the severity is the worst in many years. It’s also much earlier than previous years.”
The outbreak started in early December, Larson said. Flu usually doesn’t impact his health centers until February or March.
He said some patients had cases that required hospitalization, and all of those had not gotten flu shots this season.
“Everyone I admitted had not been immunized. Many were not smokers. Smokers get more significant respiratory issues.”
Larson said it may be that children returned to schools earlier this month after Christmas vacation and some brought with them influenza infections they’d contracted while they were off.
“We had to work harder last weekend.”
Hudson Headwaters operates health centers in Moriah, Ticonderoga, Champlain and numerous other locations in the North Country.
Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers said influenza activity is widespread in Essex County.
“We’re stocking up on flu vaccine. Some of this may be due to not as many people getting immunized as in previous years.”
She said schools are required by law to notify them of severe outbreaks, but no Essex County school has had to do that so far, and no schools have had to close because of a flu infection.