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Flu cases 'continue to rise at alarming levels'

National Public Radio

State health officials say laboratory-confirmed influenza cases topped 11,000 over the past week, with another 2,200-plus New Yorkers requiring hospitalization because of the flu.

In releasing the latest flu statistics Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo again urged people to get the flu vaccine. The Democrat says flu cases and hospitalizations "continue to rise at alarming levels."

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein also has said that it is not too late to receive a flu vaccine, as flu seasons are highly unpredictable. "The influenza virus can mutate and it’s difficult to gauge which flu strain will dominate in any given year," she said earlier this season.

Health officials say the total laboratory-confirmed flu cases in New York State during the past week reached 11,683 - That was a 30 percent rise over the previous week - with 2,221 people hospitalized with confirmed influenza - a 21 percent rise over the previous week.

Overall, there have been nearly 37,000 lab-confirmed flu cases over the past eight weeks across the state, with more than 9,300 people requiring hospitalization.

Doctor visits for flu-like symptoms hit their highest level nationwide since the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Burstein said antiviral therapies may reduce the severity of illness, decrease the risk of complications, including hospitalization, and shorten the duration of illness.

“Contact your primary care physician or an urgent care center if you are concerned about your symptoms” said Burstein. “Emergency Departments should be utilized for true medical emergencies. Typically, flu can be treated at home.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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