Flu cases on the rise in Monroe County

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When it comes to new positive cases for COVID-19, Monroe County’s numbers continue to drop. The same can’t be said for new flu cases.

News10NBC took a look at the numbers and found out why all of a sudden more people have been catching the flu.

In the latest Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report for the week that ended on March 12, Monroe County recorded 57 new cases of the flu. Wayne County came in second for the week, with 18 new cases of their own.

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"Flu is nothing new," said Austin Ridge after hearing the news. "You know it’s been around forever. We just have to be careful, especially our at-risk population."

Michelle Gallman from Greece added, "I had it once a long time ago, and I don’t want to go through that again."

Rochester Regional Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Emil Lesho said there are several reasons why flu numbers are rising here in Monroe County. One big reason, he said, is people relaxing their personal protective measures.

"Masking, social distancing, hand washing they were very effective for the respiratory viruses including the flu, and if you recall last flu season there were very few cases," Lesho said.

Monroe County’s 57 new cases of the flu equate to roughly 7.69 cases per 100,000 population. Lesho said the week prior to the latest report, the county had about 23 new flu cases. In general, this season alone there’s been anywhere between 1,200 and 1,300 total flu cases. People getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, and skipping the flu shot is another possible reason behind the spike according to Lesho.

"Maybe they just lost track of it. It fell off their radar screen. We were focused on COVID you know. we weren’t focused on flu, and so there’s probably less coverage of people with the flu vaccine," Lesho said.

Doctors also haven’t determined if the season hit its peak yet.

"In worst-case scenario sometimes you have two peaks," Lesho said. "Sometimes you have an early peak and a late peak. So it could be that as influenza often does it’s peaking later in the year, and we could be on the uptick of that right now."

So let’s say you got a flu shot back in September or October. Is another shot necessary?

"It might not hurt, but I’d follow the recommendations of the local Health Department," Lesho said.

Besides your local Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has important information on the seasonal flu. You can find that by clicking here.