BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New York is in the middle of a flu outbreak and in both Chautauqua and Erie County there has been a spike in cases.
Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said, “We haven’t seen these numbers this early in the season for several years.”
Dr. Burstein says there’s a big reason why; this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t completely match the strain of Influenza A that is circulating. Doctors are finding that even people who got the shot are getting the flu.
Buffalo General Chief Medical Officer Dr. Colin McMahon said, “We do have partial immunity but it’s not stopping the spread of the disease.” But, Dr. McMahon says it’s still a good idea to get the shot.
He explained, “We usually get two outbreaks one in mid-winter right about now and we’ll probably see another outbreak in March so even though the flu vaccine may not be 100% effective it’s still worthwhile. If you haven’t gotten it yet, we have a second outbreak coming, it’s worthwhile to get it.”
Despite the increase in flu cases, Tamiflu and Relenza, the two drugs used to treat it, are reportedly still in good supply.
Dr. Burstein said, “In areas of the country there have been reports of sporadic shortages however we’ve learned from the manufacturer that they have good supplies. They’re cranking it out so pharmacies should be able to get a hold of it.”
Just like the vaccine, however, it’s not a magic fix. It works best when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms and it only works in combating Influenza A.
“The 24-hour, 48-hour bug, that’s not Influenza A. It’s a knock-down, in bed 5 – 7, maybe 10 days, praying for God to take your life kind of sick. It’s a miserable, miserable thing to have,” warned Dr. McMahon.