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County Officials Warn Of Increase Influenza Activity Statewide; Offers Safety Advice

MAYVILLE — Influenza activity is widespread in Chautauqua County just as it is throughout the state and nation. On Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory regarding the increased prevalence of Influenza A(H3N2) along with prevention and treatment recommendations.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older and anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now. People who have severe influenza illness, or who are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, should get treated with influenza antiviral medication if they get flu symptoms regardless of whether or not they got vaccinated. Flu vaccinations are available at a primary care doctor’s office, many local pharmacies or the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health Clinics.

In the U.S., influenza activity has significantly increased over recent weeks with the Influenza A(H3N2) virus strain predominating. In the past, H3N2 flu seasons have been more severe with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children. Also, the influenza vaccine effectiveness is generally lower against the A(H3N2) strain.

“Influenza vaccination remains the first line of defense against the influenza illness,” said Christine Schuyler, county director of Health and Human Services. “While vaccination offers the best protection we have against influenza, it’s still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated but their illness will be much milder. Influenza antiviral medications are a second line of defense against influenza but their use this flu season is more important than usual because of the circulating A(H3N2) strain.”

To reduce the chance of getting and spreading the flu and other infectious respiratory illnesses, take the following measures:

¯ Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of the elbow, not the hands. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.

¯ Wash hands often with soap and water especially after blowing one’s nose or coughing, using the bathroom, before and after eating, and after being in contact with someone who is ill. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if not near a sink.

¯ Keep hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth.

¯ Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

¯ Stay home when sick.

For more information on influenza vaccination, illness and reducing the risk of contracting the flu, visit www.cdc.gov or contact the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Division at 866-604-6789. To find a flu vaccine provider, visit vaccinefinder.org.

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