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'Swift, Widespread' Flu Outbreak Expected To Be Severe In Westchester

Even Westchester County residents that received their flu shots may be suffering do to an inefficient vaccine.
Even Westchester County residents that received their flu shots may be suffering do to an inefficient vaccine. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Jay39

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Aching muscles? Debilitating headaches? Fevers, a scratchy throat and runny nose?

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may be among the countless Westchester County residents suffering from one of the worst influenza seasons on record.

According to the Center for Disease Control, as of Monday, 43 states have reported widespread flu activity, including New York, which has nearly 4,000 confirmed influenza reports statewide .

The spread of the influenza virus has been swift and widespread, with the number of reports increasing exponentially throughout the country. The virus was aided by an inefficient flu vaccine, which according to doctors did not include the current strain of influenza, which has help spread the virus rapidly.

“The flu is reaching epidemic levels across the country and here in Westchester,” Dr. Debra Spicehandler, the co-chief of infectious disease at Northern Westchester Hospital said. “Having taken the vaccine makes the severity of the illness less.”

According to Westchester doctors, washing hands and avoiding contact with the infected are the best ways to prevent the flu from spreading. Those who are suffering from the virus should stay home from work in an effort to curb the spread.

Flu season is expected to peak in February and lasts until May. Jorge Rojas, who works at a White Plains pharmacy, said he hasn’t noticed shoppers purchasing a lot of specific flu medication, but said he thought there was an uptick in general cold medication.

“Considering how badly some people are feeling, there hasn’t been a mad rush or anything,” he said on Tuesday. “Things pick up around the holidays when the weather gets real bad, and usually tails off when it gets warmer.”

Dr. Rafael Torres, the director of emergency medicine at White Plains Hospital, said that he and his staff have been trained in handling influenza cases, and have become the gold standard among New York Hospitals.

“This flu season is expected to be severe because the predominant strain (H3N2) has varied from that which was included in the vaccine,” he said. “We here at White Plains Hospital have been in contact with the Department of Health regularly to update them on our processes and they have applauded our strategies to minimize our patients’ and staff’s exposure.”

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