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The Times
  • Flu cases battering Oneida, Herkimer county residents

  • Flu is flying around Oneida and Herkimer counties.

    More than five times as many Oneida County residents already have been diagnosed with flu than during the entire 2011 - 2012 flu season, said Ken Fanelli, spokesman for the Oneida County Health Department.

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  • Flu is flying around Oneida and Herkimer counties.
    More than five times as many Oneida County residents already have been diagnosed with flu than during the entire 2011 - 2012 flu season, said Ken Fanelli, spokesman for the Oneida County Health Department.
    Cases in Herkimer County have at least quadrupled, community health nurse Diane Ward said.
    Local hospitals and nursing homes have been seeing a lot of patients with flu-like illnesses, Fanelli said. Officials at Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare say they’ve seen increases in inpatients and emergency room patients with flu-like illnesses.
    In total, 1,530 cases of the flu had been diagnosed as of Friday in Oneida County since flu season began early in mid-November, Fanelli said.
    That compares to 329 cases from the fall of 2011 through April.
    Herkimer County has had 224 cases, compared to fewer than 50 last year, Ward said.
    If you don’t want to share their misery, Fanelli recommended a flu shot. Flu season lasts until May and it’s never too late for a shot, although it does take two weeks to kick in, he said.
    The surfeit of sneezes and coughs locally mirrors state and national increases in flu-like symptoms and diagnosed flu cases.
    Strangely though, the number of new flu cases reported each day in Oneida and Herkimer counties has been falling. A few weeks ago, Oneida County was seeing 60 to 80 new cases each day and Herkimer County somewhere in the teens. But since the holidays, new cases have tapered off to no more than 10 a day in Oneida County and two or three a day in Herkimer County, Fanelli and Ward said. Both said, however, the numbers don’t mean there’s less flu around: doctors simply aren’t bothering to test for flu as often.
    “It’s quacking like the flu so they’re treating it like flu,” Ward said. “At some point, (testing) becomes unnecessary really. You know that it’s widespread throughout the state, throughout the country.”
    Across the state, the number of new flu cases rose nine percent during the last week of December and the number of flu patients being admitted to the hospital jumped 46 percent, according to the state health department.
    Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported high levels of flu in most of the country and more patients than usual seeing doctors for flu-like symptoms.
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