(Photo : CDC)
In response to widespread influenza-like illnesses (ILI), New York governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state public health emergency.
"We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City," explains Cuomo. "Therefore, I have directed my Administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines."
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The Center for Disease Control's most recent flu assessment, which accounts for the week leading up to January 5, notes that the total number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases decreased seven percent since the prior report. However, instances of newly diagnosed patients rose 55 percent to 1,120 cases. So far, the 2012-2013 flu season has caused two deaths in total.
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, chills, a cough, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, muscle or body aches, fatigue, and potentially diarrhea and vomiting. Infants will often experience poor circulation, lethargy, swollen glands, and a lack of appetite.
Once infected, most people have the ability to sicken others between five and seven days after symptoms become apparent. The illness can also be transferred up to one day before any effects are felt. However, the CDC clarifies that "young children and people with weakened immune systems might be able to infect others for an even longer time."
Contagious people can spread the flu through sneezing, coughing, or talking nearby others. Make sure to be careful of surfaces or objects that flu afflicted friends or family touch, as the virus can be spread in that manner as well.