PLATTSBURGH — Health-care professionals are stressing the basics to combat a local increase in influenza and gastrointestinal diseases this season.
Simple steps, like washing hands regularly and avoiding contact with others when sick, can go a long way to prevent the spread of such infectious diseases as the flu and the stomach bug.
TEAM ON WATCH
“With our Communicable Disease Surveillance Team, we can see what is happening with infectious disease throughout the community,” said Laurie Williams, coordinator of health education for the Clinton County Health Department.
“With that information, we can turn around and notify the public of what we’re seeing and what actions people can do to reduce the risk.”
MANY LOCAL CASES
Influenza continues to be a statewide concern and has been categorized as widespread across New York state.
Laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu were reported in all 57 counties, with 3,974 cases confirmed during the week of Dec. 22, an increase of 42 percent over the preceding week.
“We are seeing a significant number of cases,” said Karen Plotas-McGrath, a public-health nurse who works on the Surveillance Team for the Health Department. “The peak of the flu outbreak hit during (school) vacation.”
CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh has also seen an early arrival to the flu season.
“We see the flu every year, but this year it is much earlier than we usually see it,” said Erica Wood, manager of the Infection Control Unit at CVPH.
“In December of last year, we had only two patients who tested positive for flu. This year, we had 92 cases in December.”
Most of those cases have come through the hospital’s Emergency Department, but only a handful had to be admitted with severe complications, she added.
There seems to be little significance of age with this year’s flu. Wood has seen patients from ages 1 to 91 and every age level in between.