The flu continues to hit hard in Central New York and beyond. Last week, Onondaga County had 262 cases. That's down from over 500 cases in mid-December. But despite the decline, experts say the flu remains a threat. Our Candace Hopkins has tips on how to keep yourself healthy, and what to do if you end up catching the flu.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Without a doubt, this is one of the worst flu seasons the United States has seen in years. Experts say the combination of the early arrival of the season, and the spread of a very aggressive strain of the flu are to blame.
"The primary circulating strain is a different strain called H3N2, which tends to cause more significant disease than H1N1, for the two particular strains that are circulating right now, so part of it is the mixture of circulating virus', the strains of virus', part of it is probably social," said Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow.
Meaning, as people visited for holiday gatherings, they helped spread the virus. Doctors also say there are a lot of people who think they have the flu, but instead only have a cold. But when it is actually the flu, it is easy to tell.
"The thing that sets it apart is its abrupt onset, it comes on very quickly, generally with a fever, you develop a cough, perhaps a sore throat, and extreme body aches, and extreme fatigue," said Upstate Employee and Student Health Director, Dr. K. Bruce Simmons.
For most people, the flu lasts about a week. But doctors say some people attempt to return to work or school too quickly.
"As long as you haven't had a fever for 24 hours or more you should be good, and that doesn't mean that you don't have a fever because you're taking medications like Motrin or Tylenol, it means you don't have a fever off medication," said Dr. Morrow.
Doctors can prescribe Tamiflu to those suffering from extreme flu symptoms, but in general the only way to beat the virus is to get a lot of rest and drink lots of fluids. If you've already been sick, you still need to get a vaccine. That's because there's many different strains circulating right now, and you could get sick again.