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Significant spike in flu cases in Erie County

Testing for Swine Flu
WBFO News file photo
Testing for Swine Flu

The Erie County Health Department is reporting a significant spike in the number of local flu cases. County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein announced Tuesday afternoon that new data confirms influenza cases have more than doubled in one week.

The county Health Department said it is a 127 percent increase.

"It is alarming," Burstein said in a WBFO News interview. "We know that we have a great deal of influenza in our community right now."

"Yes, it is alarming," Burstein said in a WBFO News interview. "We know that we have a great deal of influenza in our community right now."

But Burstein noted the increase is reflective of what is occurring across the nation.

"A lot of flu in the United States right now and unfortunately it is in Erie County," stated Burstein. 

Credit WBFO News file photo
Dr. Gale Burstein getting a flu shot.

But according to the health leader, it's not too late to get the flu vaccine. Despite recent rumors of a shortage of vaccine, Burstein said there is plenty in Erie County. 

"I know that there had been rumors of a shortage of Tamiflu in the United States, but that is not true n Erie County. We do have a good supply and nationally, there is no shortage," Burstein said.

With schools off for the holiday break, Burstein said it is too soon to say how the number of flu cases could effect attendance when students return next week.

Credit Chart from Erie County Health Department
Erie County flu chart showing latest data.

ECDOH has been in touch with the local hospital systems who are reporting significant increases in patient volumes, particularly among the elderly patients. 

The health department urges citizens to contact their health care provider if they have flu symptoms before heading to a hospital ER.

“It’s important to contact your primary care physician if you are concerned about your or your child’s flu symptoms” said Dr. Burstein. “Emergency Departments should be utilized for emergencies. Typically, flu can be treated at home. There is always the possibility that while awaiting treatment in an Emergency Department you may contract a contagious disease from another patient in the waiting room."

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