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Local officials respond to flu outbreak

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:00 am

State and local officials are acting swiftly to respond to an outbreak of seasonal influenza that has killed 18 children nationally, including two in New York state.

Dennis J. McCarthy, vice president of marketing and communications for the Upper Allegheny Health System, said Olean General Hospital reported 64 positive lab cases as of Jan. 14 to the State and local Health Department with four cases requiring hospitalization since December. The Bradford Regional Medical Center reported 47 positive cases with three admissions since December.

While County Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins couldn’t determine how many individuals have been treated for the flu in the county, the state Department of Health reported 2,884 patients hospitalized and laboratory-confirmed for the flu as of Jan. 5, compared to 1,169 at the same time last flu season.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a statewide Public Health Emergency lasting 30 days Saturday, Jan. 12.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified the components of this influenza and all three strains are in the county’s vaccine, according to Dr. Watkins.

Dr. Watkins said the vaccination is the primary prevention in order to reduce complications and stressed that all who haven’t received one do so.

Dr. Watkins said secondary methods with antiviral medications are available to patients with disabilities including diabetes, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These medications cannot cure the virus, but can reduce the length of time patients experience flu symptoms.

* This is a partial story. The full story can be found in the Jan. 17, 2013 edition of The Salamanca Press and online in the e-edition. *

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