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Flu appears in the north country

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The flu has arrived in the north country.

Twenty-one counties across the state are reporting cases, many of them straight up the Interstate 81 corridor, including Oswego, Onondaga and Tompkins counties, St. Lawrence County interim Public Health Director Lorraine B. Kourofsky said.

“They’re all positive this week for the first time,” she said last week. “It’s really exploded.”

Public health agencies in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties all reported cases last week.

St. Lawrence had five, Jefferson had three and Lewis had two.

The season started a little earlier than usual, Ms. Kourofsky said.

“Usually we get hit right after Christmas,” she said.

Most people who get the flu have mild cases and recover in less than two weeks, but some have complications that can include pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. The flu also can worsen chronic health problems, such as asthma or congestive heart disease.

Those at high risk for the flu include young children, senior citizens, pregnant women, American Indians and those with chronic medical problems.

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, which was established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to highlight the importance of flu vaccines.

Health officials are urging everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccination. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after being given a shot.

Vaccines are offered at many locations, including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies and, on Wednesdays, the Jefferson County Public Health Service, 531 Meade St.

St. Lawrence County will host clinics from 10 a.m. to noon at several locations this week. The shots will be available today at Cambray Courts in Gouverneur, Tuesday at Seaway Valley Prevention Council in Ogdensburg and Wednesday at Massena Community Center.

The average cost of a flu shot is $30.

“A flu shot might be a nice gift for someone who can’t afford it,” Ms. Kourofsky said.

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