By CRAIG FREILICH
St. Lawrence County has recorded the highest number of flu cases in years so far this season.
The county has had 183 cases confirmed by blood tests, said St. Lawrence County Public Health Department Prevent Services Supervisor Laurie B. Maki, a nurse and the department’s influenza point person.
That is "far exceeding" the number in early January last year.
"We've haven't had this many cases this early in years," she said.
"The peak is usually at the end of January or early February," Maki said.
Whether that means the county's flu rate is peaking early or there is much more to come is unknown, but the current outbreak is larger than the county has seen "in a number of years."
In hopes of keeping the number of incidents low, the county Public Health Department is urging people to take the usual precautions, including vaccinations.
Maki is urging people to get a flu shot if they haven't already.
There had been fears of a vaccine shortage in the fall, and there were spot shortages reported last year, but "there is plenty of vaccine out there," this year Maki says.
Statewide, the number flu cases is continuing to rise, Maki notes. To date two children have reportedly died of flu thus season.
Maki says that the standard recommendation is that anyone six months old and older should be vaccinated against the flu.
“There is plenty of flu vaccine available at primary care providers, pharmacies and here at the health department,” Maki says.
“We here at the health department do not have any Flumist, the nasal flu vaccine. Anyone looking for this form of flu vaccine will have to contact their primary care provider.”
The shots are available at the county's own clinics and from doctors and drug stores.
The incidence of flu and flu-like cases is relatively low in New York State, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The highest rates are seen in the South, from Virginia to Georgia and across to Texas, but the CDC indicates that outbreaks this year are earlier than they have been in recent years.