Not only did the flu come early this year, it also hit people pretty hard. Health professionals say despite a decline in cases, the flu is still out in full force. Our Katie Gibas gives us an update on a harsh flu season.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- This flu season has been one of the worst in years. Not only did hospitals start seeing cases before Thanksgiving, but the virus took a lot out of many patients.
"It's almost H3N2 type influenza and traditionally H3N2 causes more severe disease," said Dr. Joe Domachowske, a Professor of Pediatrics at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.
H3N2 also tends to result in more complications, like pneumonia. So far this flu season, Onondaga County has seen 2,727 cases. There were only 24 cases for the same time period last season.
"This infection, usually, if it's not complicated, it will last from three to five days. And most adults will be in bed with their pillow over their head for part of that time. It is incapacitating. It makes you very sick," said Domachowske.
But despite an early onset, in the last month, hospitalizations have dropped almost 80 percent. County-wide, the infection peaked the week of December 22 at 509 reported cases. The week of January 26th, only had 91.
"You can actually get influenza multiple times in the same season if you're not immunized. And even people that have been immunized may be infected with a strain that's slightly different than the strains that were included in the vaccine. You probably would have been sicker with influenza if you weren't vaccinated in the first place," said Domachowske.
Usually infection rates peak in January and February and can last until May. Health professionals say they hope we've seen the worst, but the flu can be unpredictable.
And since flu season can continue for several more months, the CDC is still recommending immunization for anyone who hasn't received one yet.
According to the CDC, it takes about two weeks after vaccination to have optimal protection against the flu.