WXXI AM News

Late-season spike in flu deaths in Monroe County

Apr 2, 2019

Flu cases have dropped from a late-season surge in Monroe County. But the number of hospitalizations for the virus has spiked among the oldest members of the population, and four more people have died, according to the county’s most recent data.

Hospitalizations for flu are spiking in Monroe County among people 85 and older.
Credit Monroe County Public Health Department and University of Rochester Medical Center Center for Community Health & Prevention

Sixteen people have now died from the flu this season in the county.

Emil Lesho, a health care epidemiologist at Rochester Regional Health, said it’s difficult to tell exactly why the spikes are happening. “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if anybody knows what’s going on,” he said.

A health advisory from the federal Centers for Disease Control last week noted a similar increase nationally. The CDC urged doctors to remain vigilant for flu symptoms, especially in adults age 65 and older.

Lesho stressed that the surges are normal as the flu virus evolves through a season.

“The exact strain of the virus you start with is not always the one that’s the most prominent several months later,” he said.

Lesho said even in April, it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. The disease is often prevalent into the middle of May, he said.

The vaccine’s protections usually take a week or two to fully kick in, “so, if you got your flu vaccine today, you could conceivably have three to five more weeks of protection,” Lesho said.