NEW YORK - The New York State Department of Health is warning that flu cases are widespread across the state. There have already been 596 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza for the week ending Oct. 1. Last year there were only 150 cases by Oct. 9th.
Health officials say the number of cases started being reported in higher than usual numbers in September, and cases of laboratory-confirmed flu are increasing week over week.
As of October 3, the number of New York counties reporting cases of influenza is 44, which is considered widespread, a determination made when more than half of the state's 62 counties report lab-confirmed cases.
The regions reporting the highest number of cases are the New York City area, the Capital District, and Central New York.
The health department is warning people to get their annual flu vaccination.
The CDC has warned that this could potentially be a severe flu season.
Both COVID-19 and the flu are contagious respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish between the two viral infections. Symptoms of both, which can range from mild to severe, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Respiratory symptoms may be present without fever and some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.
Flu season usually runs from October through May, and typically peaks between December and February.
They remind people to wash their hands often with soap and hot water or use hand sanitizer and cough or sneeze into a tissue.
They also recommend people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth if they are symptomatic.