We Western New Yorkers are a hearty bunch.
Surely, a sniffle and a cough is nothing to worry about, right?
On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide health emergency because of the state's heavy flu season, citing the worst season for influenza in at least four years with all 57 counties statewide and all five boroughs of New York City counting among the 19,128 cases reported so far. Flu cases statewide have increased more than 400 percent compared to the 2012 flu season, which was the mildest ever recorded.
Flu season generally peaks in January and February and can linger through March. People can decrease their odds of getting the flu by washing their hands frequently and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Because viruses can be spread by the hands as well as the air, health professionals recommend coughing into an elbow rather than the hand and staying home to treat the flu rather than going to work and spreading the illness.
But, the best way area residents can protect themselves from the flu is by getting a flu shot.
Flu vaccinations are available at your primary care doctor's office, many local pharmacies or by calling the Chautauqua County Health Department at 866-604-6789.
Those who haven't been vaccinated should consider doing so. You'll be glad you did.