Tag Archives: flu epidemic

Flu demands respect


| editorial@queenscourier.com


BY SCOTT BREIDBART, M.D.

In the universe of infectious diseases, influenza, or flu, doesn’t usually gather interest. Ebola kills almost all infected people, isn’t in the United States, and had a best seller written about it. Tuberculosis, or consumption, is worldwide, continuously threatens to become immune to all treatments, and has killed many famous people, from artists to politicians. Polio kills and paralyzes, launched the March of Dimes, and its vaccine – along with that of smallpox – is one of the great triumphs of medicine.

But flu? Flu doesn’t seem to command the same level of fear and loathing. It’s common – everyone gets it at one time or another. People usually feel miserable for a week, and unless they are old, young, immune suppressed, or very unlucky, recover with nothing worse than the ire of the co-workers they spread it to.

The flu season starts in the fall and lasts into the spring, sort of like the hockey season, and like hockey, some seasons start later and there are good years and bad years. The experts cannot predict whether the season will start early, last a long time, or kill more people than usual.

So, while it may not win a Golden Globe for Worst Infectious Disease, you still DO NOT want to get it. The flu will make you feel rotten. If you are old, young, or have a poor immune system, it can kill you. If you spread it to a friend, neighbor or colleague who is fighting cancer, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or who had a transplant, it can pose a highly serious threat to their health, and they may de-friend you on Facebook.

So how can you avoid the flu?

Get a flu vaccine. Stay away from sick people or people who are complaining that they just feel achy and feverish. Get a flu vaccine. Don’t touch them, don’t shake their hands, and don’t let them cough on you. Get a flu vaccine. Wash your hands. Get a flu vaccine. And, of course, always check with your doctor if you get it (even after taking all these precautions).

This year’s flu vaccine is about 60 percent effective. That is very good. Statins don’t reduce the death from heart disease by 60 percent. Even seat belts don’t reduce crash related injuries by 60 percent.

Japan mandated flu vaccine for school children from 1962 to 1987 and 40,000 deaths a year were prevented! After the vaccination of school children was stopped, deaths from flu in Japan rose.

The flu vaccine is recommended for just about everyone over the age of six months. Get a flu vaccine. And plead (if you must) with your neighbors and friends to get a flu vaccine if they haven’t already gotten one. That’s what I’m doing.

Dr. Breidbart is Chief Medical Offi cer for Empire BlueCross BlueShield, New York’s largest health insurer, insuring nearly 6 million New Yorkers

Street Talk: Did you get a flu shot?


| editorial@queenscourier.com

street talk

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND MELISSA CHAN

Yes, because I work in a hospital and always end up getting one.
Michael Caponsacco 


No, I don’t like shots.
Karen Skala


No. But, to be honest, I should get one. I just don’t like needles.
Geovanny Nolasco 


No, because I don’t have health insurance.
Michael Mandel


Yes, I got my flu shot. At my age, it’s important. I could conk out.
Sue Parks 


No, but I will get one. It’s crazy this year. I have to find someone to watch my kids so I can go get one.
Angela Hernandez 


Yes, I get them from my doctor every year.
Rhys Ritter


Yes, I did. I got it ahead of time in September.
Linda Leshnick 

Flu Q&A: Symptoms and treatment


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy CDC/Judy Schmidt

Not sure if that cough you’re battling is the flu or just your average cold? Here are a few symptoms that might indicate you’re fighting the flu.

Symptoms of the flu can include the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. These symptoms are often similar to cold symptoms, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced.

Although most people will usually recover from flu without complications, the virus poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than age two, those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.

Should you get a flu shot?

  • The State Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive a flu vaccination.
  • Children under six months cannot get a flu vaccination. Since the flu virus can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing, family members and people who regularly come in contact with young children or individuals at high risk for the disease get vaccinated against influenza.
  • Individuals at high risk for the flu include people who have a chronic medical condition, in addition to the very young and the very old. Also, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza and other communicable disease to protect their health and the health of their patients.
  • Most health insurance plans cover flu vaccines. If you don’t have health insurance, don’t panic. Individuals and families without health insurance should check with their county health department to determine if local clinics will be held to provide free vaccinations. Pharmacists are also able to give flu shots and pharmacies may be an easy and convenient place to receive a flu vaccination.

What to do if you’ve been exposed.

  • If you think you have been exposed to someone infected with the flu or a person experiencing flu symptoms, consult with your health care provider immediately to determine whether prescription antiviral drugs may be helpful.
  • Treatment with prescription antiviral medications can sometimes lessen the effects of influenza, if the treatment is started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against influenza.
  • Although getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting influenza, you can also reduce your risk by washing your hands regularly and disinfecting surfaces, such as desktops and telephones, that are touched frequently.
  • Eating healthy foods, getting enough rest and exercising regularly can also help protect against influenza and the common cold.
  • If you do experience symptoms or become ill, it is important to limit your opportunity to expose other people by staying home while ill and practicing good cough etiquette, such as coughing into your elbow instead of your hands.

 

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WATCH: NY Department of Health laboratory monitors the flu virus


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot NYSDOH YouTube channel

This weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency for all of New York state, which allows pharmacists to give flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age.

There are already 19,128 cases of flu reported in the state this season, more than the 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported during last year’s influenza season.

According to the New York State Department of Health (DOH), as of January 5, there have been reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza and two children have died of the flu in the state. In 2011 there were only 1,169 total hospitalizations.

Here’s a look into the laboratory at the New York State Department of Health, where efforts are underway to reduce and monitor the effects of this season’s flu.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. Fog early. High of 63. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NNW in the afternoon. Chance of rain 30%. Monday Night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 36. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Double Life exhibition

SculptureCenter in Long Island City is pleased to present the exhibition Double Life, which brings together a group of artists that share a performance-based approach to sculpture. Common strategies include inhabiting the physical site of exhibition, leaving indexical marks on images of their own making, and re-contextualizing or re-animating various objects, images and readymades. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Flu shot supply dwindling as New York faces public health emergency

With the flu epidemic hitting the Tri-State Area hard, many pharmacies have begun to run out of flu shot supplies. Read more: CBS New York

Bus strike threat looms over NYC schools

A continuing dispute over job protections for New York City school bus drivers means the threat of a strike is still looming, potentially disrupting transportation for about 152,000 students as soon as this week. Read more: NBC New York

Flushing apartment building fire sends one person to hospital

According to the FDNY, the fire started in a bathroom ceiling fan on the top floor of a seven-story building at 42-02 Kissena Boulevard shortly after 10 p.m. Read more: NY1

Weekend bird hits force 2 jets to return to JFK

Authorities say bird strikes forced two planes to return to Kennedy Airport shortly after takeoff over the weekend. Read more: Fox New York

Rare large parcel of property near Citi Field hits the market

Property near Citi Field is hotter than ever right now with proposals for a state-of-the-art new mall and a $300 million Major League Soccer stadium to be constructed nearby. Read more: New York Daily News

Life after Sandy: Businesses still waiting for relief in the Rockaways

Despite all the fund raising and promises of recovery, when it comes to getting small businesses in Queens up and running after Sandy, the federal government has approved 37 loans for the entire borough, while the city has given out only 28. In the Rockaways, where much of the area was without heat and power for weeks after the storm, it’s given 9 loans. Read more: WYNC

‘Argo” scores sweet Golden Globe victory with two top awards

Iran hostage drama “Argo” scored a sweet double victory at the Golden Globe awards on Sunday, winning best movie drama – the night’s top prize – and best director for Ben Affleck on a night that left front-runner “Lincoln” with just one trophy. Read more: Reuters

 

 

Flu season etiquette tips from The Emily Post Institute


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

Airplane: Spreading Virus on a Plane

When the flu hits, manners may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, good “flu etiquette” and hygiene can go a long way in helping to prevent the spread of influenza. While most Americans recognize that the flu virus spreads easily, they admit to sometimes forgetting their manners when they have the flu: a 2011 survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that three out of four Americans (75%) would go to at least one social situation if they had symptoms of the flu (out of a list of seven).

Influenza, or “the flu,” is a contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs which occurs most often in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Flu is a serious infection which is associated, on average, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations due to flu related complications and can lead to thousands of deaths every year in the United States.

“No one wants to spread the flu to family, friends, or colleagues. Yet many of us admit to tossing our manners aside when we have the flu,” said Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. “Knowing how to politely cancel an event you’re hosting or how to avoid shaking your client’s hand because you’re sick can help avoid a potentially difficult and awkward situation. By following appropriate flu etiquette, we can all play a role in preventing the spread of the flu virus.”

The Emily Post Institute offers the following etiquette tips to manage common situations where the flu virus might be spread from one person to another:

1. Share space, not the flu – Covering sneezes and coughs is a good habit all year round, especially during flu season. The flu virus can spread up to six feet away from coughing, sneezing, or even just talking.

2. Know when to take a sick day – The flu is highly contagious and the people you work with don’t want to get sick. Knowing the symptoms of flu versus a cold is important so you know when to take a sick day and see a doctor. Remember the acronym F.A.C.T.S. to recognize if you might have the flu (Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness with Sudden Onset).

3. In tight quarters – It’s tough to point out someone’s behavior mid-flight with hours left to go. However, flu is highly contagious. If there’s no other seat available, consider saying, “I can see you’re not feeling well — would you mind covering your mouth when you cough? Thanks.” Most people when prompted are eager to show good manners and do the right thing.

“Every year, millions of Americans get influenza. We are all personally responsible for helping to control its spread,” says Susan J. Rehm, MD, medical director at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccine as the first and most important step in preventing influenza, as well as good hygiene. If symptoms arise, see a doctor quickly. The flu can be treated with prescription antiviral medicines.”

To help children recognize flu symptoms, learn good habits, and pass the time with a fun activity this winter, download a free coloring book at FluFACTS.com. On FluFACTS.com, you’ll find information to help you distinguish between flu and cold symptoms, sign up for flu alerts in your area, and download a free “Fight the Flu” iPhone app.

This influenza education campaign and survey are supported by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 48. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Friday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 43. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East after midnight. Chance of rain 80%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Homesick Hound Dogs

The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria presents the Homesick Hound Dogs — an altcountry/Americana band that couldn’t have happened anywhere besides New York City. With high-energy original songs about love, whiskey and other things that make life awkward and wonderful, the group strives to make the listener feel at home no matter how far home is, most importantly they will make you feel at home in your dancing shoes. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Donations for Sandy victims may not be going entirely to victims and recovery, says watchdog

Victims of Superstorm Sandy may not be receiving all the donations that have poured in for them, according to a disaster aid watchdog group. Read more: New York Daily News

Obama names Queens native Jack Lew as treasury secretary

Queens is coming to the cabinet. President Obama officially nominated his chief of staff, Queens native Jacob “Jack” Lew, for secretary of the treasury Thursday. Read more: Queens Courier

Mechanical error may have been cause of ferry crash

The day after a ferry ride left dozens of passengers in stretchers, the National Transportation Safety Board is slowly finding answers. Read more: NY1

New York City examining DNA errors in rape cases

The New York City medical examiner is reviewing hundreds of rape cases for DNA evidence errors. ABC New York

New York in midst of flu epidemic as emergency room and drug store visits rise

A ferocious flu “epidemic” has New Yorkers rushing to doctors, hospitals and drug stores — with emergency-room visits up 150 percent over last year, city health officials said yesterday. Read more: New York Post

FDA requires lower doses for sleep medications

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring makers of Ambien and similar sleeping pills to lower the dosage of their drugs, based on studies suggesting patients face a higher risk of injury due to morning drowsiness. Read more: ABC News