Spike In Flu Cases Seen In Fairfield County

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There has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of flu cases in the region.
There has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of flu cases in the region. Photo Credit: Flickr user GeorgieD

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – It’s not an epidemic.

Not yet, that is.

The winter of 2013 is proving to be the worst flu season in 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it seems to be getting worse every day.

The number of confirmed cases of the flu in Connecticut reached 1,676 for the week of Jan. 5, more than three times the number of last year’s total, according to the State Department of Public Health website.

On Friday, Danbury’s mayor Mark Boughton asked residents not to go to the city’s emergency room: “Please stay away from the ER unless you have: blue skin, high fever, can’t wake up, dehydration. Call your primary care physician. ER is overwhelmed,” he said.

In Fairfield County, “Flu cases have skyrocketed,” said Dr. Michael Parry, chair of the infectious diseases department at Stamford Hospital. In fact, Fairfield County, with 451 reported cases, has among the highest concentrations in Connecticut, the state reported.

Just up the turnpike, Boston has declared a health emergency, with 700 confirmed cases of the flu so far. Last year at this time, that city had 70 cases, according to the CDC.

A total of 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, and thousands die from its complications, the CDC said. 

At Stamford Hospital, the staff is following safety protocols.

“Patients admitted with known influenza are placed on ‘droplet precaution,’” which means health care personnel wear surgical masks when seeing infected patients, Parry said.

The hospital also has instituted “rapid diagnostic tests to diagnose influenza in both staff and patients without delay so that protection, treatment and disposition can be rapidly implemented,” he said.  

If you haven’t already, Parry advocates getting a flu shot, though it can take up to two weeks for your body to build immunity against the virus. Still, he said, the flu season has not peaked and there is plenty of punch left to it.

The flu manifests with fever, chills, sore throat, cough and body aches, among other symptoms. However unpleasant its two-week grip can be, it is usually not life-threatening to otherwise healthy people. Yet, complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, can be deadly for some people, including those with pre-existing conditions, as well as pregnant women, children and the elderly.

This year’s flu shots and nasal mists contain vaccines against three strains: H3N2 (seasonal A strain), H1N1 and a B strain. Seasonal influenza A is prevalent now, Parry said.

You are less likely to contract the flu if you have had the vaccine, particularly in a season such as the current one, when the circulating strains of flu are closely related to the immunization.

For those vaccinated earlier, returning for another dose of the vaccine this season will not protect you against this winter’s viruses, Parry said, although he recommends people get re-immunized every year, which “builds your body’s memory bank for future flu strains.”

In the meantime, Parry, like many health professionals, suggests taking basic steps — in addition to washing your hands frequently — to protect yourself from the flu. Considering the speed with which this season’s virus is spreading, some additional precautions are warranted: “Stay away from coughing, sneezing people, and defer from shaking hands with someone if you can’t wash or use antibacterial product soon after,” he said.

And if you do get the flu? “Stay home,” Parry said.

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Comments (11)

Typo: It's H3N2, not H3N3.

Thank you!

I think it is pathetic that the majority of society is so ignorant about how to address these things naturally and on your own. ... for example, taking a couple thousand milligrams of olive leaf extract every two hours can resolve a flu infection in 24 to 48 hours. A non toxic anti viral, anti bacterial remedy. Olive leaf extract is a powerful healing aid that can be taken on a regular basis to protect against infection. ..... Of course there are other very valuable things one can do to strengthen one's immunity against infection, such as taking vitamin D supplement and having your D levels checked by your doctor.
..... Eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet and eating a healthy whole foods diet goes a long way towards keeping you healthy as well. ........ It's just not true that pharmaceuticals are your only option, or that there is no other way to protect yourself from becoming sick.

The article states that this year's vaccine was specific to H1N1 so how is that two of my three children tested positive for the h1n1 flu 9 weeks after vaccination !?
And yes, never put your hands above your shoulders is always a good rule to stay healthy.

Vaccines are not fool proof . Many are only 65% to 95% effective. So getting the ' shot ' doesn't make you immune.

I've never had the Flu. I only began taking the 'shot ' 5 or 6 years ago and I will be 63 this spring.
I worked in direct patient care for 29 1/2 years and I can't think of any patient that had ever made me ill.

My kids brought everything home from school and until they went to middle school I got sick with them. I got the Chicken Pox at 40, I was the last of the family to get them. I was out of work for One Month. I was home alone for 2 1/2 weeks. Close quarters and them being with their daddy 12 hours a day and Presto! So I feel your pain. I hope everybody is on the mend and well again, soon.

Two important things I can consider when answering your question are mentioned below

For intramuscular (IM) injection only (0.5 mL). (2.2)

5 years through 8 years of age

Previously unvaccinated children, or vaccinated for the first time last season with only one dose: two 0.5 mL doses, one on Day 1 followed by another approximately 4 weeks later. (2.1)

Children vaccinated with two doses last season or with at least one dose two or more years ago: one 0.5 mL dose.

9 years of age and older
A single 0.5 mL dose.

Storage and Handling

• Store refrigerated at 2–8°C (36–46°F).
• Do not freeze. Discard if product has been frozen.
• Protect from light.
• Do not use beyond the expiration date printed on the label.
• Once the stopper of the multi-dose vial has been pierced, the vial must be discarded within 28 days.

Washing your hands is a good idea. Not Touching Your Face is by far a Better Precaution to strictly adhere to.
It's a Droplet contagion. Think about where it lands and how long it can survive there. As gross as it may sound you can run your fingers through mucous secretions and not get the flu. Sure, now you need to wash your hands but then more importantly don't touch your face!
Most people don't even know how to wash their hands and as much as ' sanitizers ' are helpful if not used properly, don't waste your money.
More efficient than wearing a mask when visiting the sick is to have them wear the mask, after all they have the infectious droplets.
This seasons flu shot is a trivalent and contains the best bet of what this seasons flu will come your way. It's not fool proof. Not getting the shot only makes you more likely to get the flu.
You are less likely to contract the flu if you have had the vaccine, particularly in a season such as the current one, when the circulating strains of flu are closely related to the immunization.

Oh yeah, when washing your hands don't forget the thumbs,..people do. Also it should take you as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday, to wash your hands. Good old soap and water will do.

Try thinking of everything you touch as having wet paint. Push that elevator button with your knuckle ( the back of your hand). Stay away from fast food restaurants. Movie theaters (churches too) are a great place to get sick,
sitting in front of a sneezing person for 2 hours,..what are you thinking! Carpools, barber shops,telephones keyboards anywhere you are going to re-breath somebody else's air and touch things like magazines and money and you are increasing your chances of becoming sick. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Loveithere, on the other hand, I started getting the shots 15 years ago, while generally my family of 4 did not. People all around me were sick multiple times while I was not. So the flu shot appeared to work for me.

I was diagnosed with H1N1 the week before Christmas. My children, all three of them, also contracted the flu. While I got my shot too late (5 days before I was sick, I suspect I was exposed to the virus at the doctors office), my children were immunized in October. There was plenty of time or the vaccine to do what it was supposed to do.

I have always gotten flu shots for me and my family, and when people say they contracted flu regardless, I always figured they didn't get the immunization on a timely basis. My friend, a doctor, has always advised against the shot, saying that there is too many strains for the pharmaceutical company to know which shot to make, etc. and I always ignored him bc he was bein cynical about them wanting to make profit.

Well you know what? This is the last time I will ever get a flu shot. Knowing that my children contracted h1n1 after bein immunized for the very thing 9 weeks prior tells me that my doctor friend was correct. And this vaccine supposedly was for h1n1 in addition to other flu strains, as the article indicates.

I am not writing this to debate vaccinations but just to share my story. Information is power.

Did you visit the Southern Hemisphere or have visitors from there, or a family member come in contact, possibly at an airport? Their season is opposite ours. There are just so many things to consider about getting sick.. Information Is Power !

Jeez...I am nervous about going to substitute for the elementary teachers. When working at the "germ factories", using hand sanitizer is essential :-)

@ MR.M lol, yes you'll need a Hazmat suit as the bare minimum.