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Influx of Flu Cases Hitting Western Mass.

flu

REGION (WGGB) — There are some alarming new numbers from Baystate Medical Center about a sudden influx of flu cases being diagnosed.

The numbers are way up and one reason may be the low number of people getting their flu shots.

Early indications are pointing to a dramatic increase in the number of flu cases being diagnosed.

This season alone, statewide, there have been 3,736 cases of the flu, compared to just 126 cases this time last year.

Dr. Daniel Skiest is the head of the infectious disease division at Baystate Medical Center.

“We don’t know how many people were vaccinated. Of course that could be part of it, if fewer people were vaccinated, that could lead to more people getting the flu,” says Skiest.

And the symptoms can often mirror that of a persistent cold

“The similarity with a cold is that it’s a virus and can cause a sore throat and some of the other symptoms, but it’s much severe both symptomatically. People usually have the abrupt onset of a lot of achiness, headache , runny nose, and cough,” Skiest adds.

Most at risk, those at the extremes of the age spectrum

“Very young and very old that can get the flu, but also get very sick from the flu and require hospitalization. Some people get a secondary pneumonia or other rare complications and those are the people that can really get sick and die from the flu.”

In past years, there have been dangerously low levels of flu vaccines. Dr. Skiest says that so far this year..vaccine supplies are readily available

“Theres both an injectable vaccine. It’s giving intermuscularly and there is also for people under 50 can get the nasal vaccine..just have a squirt in their nose. Both are very effective.”

But the best way to deal with the flu is to prevent it in the first place and Dr. Skiest says it’s not too late to get that flu shot.

The flu season can typically last through May and it normally peaks in January or February.

Once you get your shot, it can take one to two weeks for your body to make antibodies against the influenza virus.