(WTNH) — Flu season officially kicks off in October and doctors say there is usually a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases around the holidays each year. This year that is exactly what is happening here in Connecticut.
“Last year it was a late season, it was like late spring, but this year it’s more typical. It’s a winter virus and it’s in full swing,” said Dr. Christopher Gennino of Milford Hospital.
Dr. Gennino says the emergency room has been busy with people complaining of flu-like symptoms.
“The flu is typically a sudden onset of headache, muscle aches, chills. There’s respiratory symptoms that will cause a cough, backache. You can’t sleep because you’re miserable. It’s a miserable illness. You’re not comfortable with the flu,” said Dr. Gennino.
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Fairfield is the county with the most confirmed cases with 71. Hartford comes in second at 70 and New Haven reports 67 confirmed cases so far. 112 people have been hospitalized and the DPH says four people over the age of 65 have died from flu-related illness.
The Centers for Disease Control say three key things can help fight the flu. First, they recommend everyone get a flu shot. Dr. Gennino says the vaccine is effective 70 to 90 percent of the time.
“If I immunize a hundred people, 20 to 30 of those people will still get the flu because they don’t make antibodies against it. It’s still going to protect the majority of people. You should still get the shot every year. Definitely,” said Dr. Gennino.
Second, the CDC says people should be taking everyday precautions to stop the spread of germs. Washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing will do a lot to keep yourself and others protected.
Lastly, the CDC says take medications as prescribed by your doctor if you are diagnosed with the flu. Dr. Gennino says drugs like Tamiflu can be effective in shortening the duration of the illness but stresses they must be taken early on in the illness.
“If you catch they symptoms earlier enough there is medications for it. Problem is people are usually sick for a day or two before they seek care and most of these medications are probably not gonna do you any good,” said Dr. Gennino.
Doctors recommend people seek professional care or emergency treatment if the flu is accompanied by respiratory problems, high fever, or dehydration.