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Doctors: Monroe County flu cases remain high, unusual amount of 'Type B' flu cases

Charles Molineaux
Created: January 13, 2020 11:34 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester area doctors reported seeing a surge in activity at their offices and concern over the flu as Monroe County and New York State health officials reported a high-intensity flu season.

“When the government is concerned, it’s an opportunity for it at least to be on people’s radars,” pediatrician Megan Lasaponara said. “So they are paying a little bit more attention.”     

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On a recent afternoon in Lasaponara’s Greece office, families turned out to have children examined for possible flu symptoms as well as to receive flu vaccines.

Ray Foster brought his children Jackson, 5, and McKenzie, 3, in for their flu follow-up shots.

"The numbers of the cases in Monroe County, they are getting high so that was a big reason to get in here,” Foster said. “It’s dangerous. I mean they can get the flu, get very sick and that’s the scary thing.”

The New York State Department of Health reported that in the week ended Jan. 4, “influenza activity level was categorized as geographically widespread. This is the sixth consecutive week that widespread activity has been reported.”

At the same point in the season, the Center for Community Health and Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center reported a steep and steady rise in flu cases and flu-related hospitalizations.

Doctors also noted an unusual wrinkle in the current flu season, an atypically heavy concentration of “Type B” flu cases when the early weeks of the season are more typically dominated by “Type A” cases.

Lasaponara also described the current flu iteration as apparently “stronger” than usual in that it was causing numerous severe cases and hospitalizations outside its usual high-risk groups, infants, the frail elderly and those already dealing with other health problems.   

"We are seeing children that are older or even some young adults,” she said. “And generally healthy adults who may be getting quite sick with influenza, people that don't necessarily have underlying medical problems like asthma or heart conditions."

The threat of flu, as well as painful past experience with it, prompted Vanessa Hawes to get her son Cameron, 9, vaccinated early. He showed up for a physical already ready for the season.   

“A couple of years ago, we did not get the flu vaccine,” Hawes recalled. “And we were probably in and out of this office… I want to say… Three or four times.”

Lasaponara urged any parents whose kids still haven’t been vaccinated to get their shots because the flu season could yet have many more months to run.

She also suggested that parents respond fast if their children showed flu symptoms and get them to care which could help them recover more quickly.  

“Some of the medicines that we use occasionally to help with the course of the disease have to be given in the very early time frame,” she said. “Cough, cold symptoms, fever, general aches… your kids are not looking quite right. Those are great reasons to bring them in to have them checked out.”


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