Confirmed cases of flu rising across New York state

ALBANY, New York (WABC) -- The Cuomo administration says the number of confirmed cases of influenza is rising across New York state, with more than 5,400 people coming down with the illness so far this season.

The state Department of Health says as of Thursday new cases of flu have been reported in 58 counties, including the five boroughs of New York City. Only Wyoming, Yates, Seneca and Hamilton counties are not reporting any cases yet.

Officials say the number of people hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu was 363 this past week, a 41 percent increase over the previous week. So far this season more than 1,300 people have been hospitalized with the flu.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging flu vaccinations for all New Yorkers six months of age and older.

"With an increase in flu cases in every corner of this state, I want to remind New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated against the flu that it is not too late to take this critical action," Governor Cuomo said. "Flu season is in full-swing, and as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

Last week, State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker declared that influenza is prevalent in New York State. This announcement put into effect a regulation requiring that healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against influenza wear surgical or procedure masks in areas where patients are typically present.

In addition to getting a flu shot and staying home when sick, the state also had some guidelines for practicing good hand-hygiene:

--Unlike some viruses, influenza is easily killed by soap and hot water.

--Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
--Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Choose a product with at least 60 percent alcohol.
--Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. People with the flu are infectious for up to 7 days after symptoms begin.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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