Burstein: Erie County Has Had Influenza Related Deaths This Year

Exact Numbers Hard to Know; Rochester-area reported 8 so far

Dave Debo
February 07, 2018 - 6:39 am

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(WBEN) The flu season has once again taken it's toll in Western New York, and while she has no exact numbers, Dr. Gale Burstein MD, the Erie County Health Commissioner says she is "Very sure that in Erie County we have had flu related deaths." this season.

The NY State Health Dept. requires counties to keep a tally of any flu death under the age of 18, and Erie has had none, she says.  But knowing how many people above that age have died because of flu-related illness is trickier to track. 

"There is no systematic  mechanism to collect that information so we don't have any exact numbers on how many adult flu deaths we have had this season," she says..
Often times flu related deaths in adults come from pneumonia, sepsis or some other condition that comes on after the flu. Knowing flu numbers would require looking at those deaths, and checking records to see if there was a prior onset of influenza.

State health officials say the total confirmed flu cases during the last week of January week reached 11,683, with 2,221 people hospitalized with confirmed influenza.    Overall, there have been nearly 37,000 lab-confirmed flu cases over the past eight weeks in New York state, with more than 9,300 people requiring hospitalization.

Doctor visits for flu-like symptoms hit their highest level nationwide since the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Nearby Rochester has reported 8 flu-related deaths, each in persons over the age of 50. Statewide patients over the age of 50 make up approx. 75 percent of all patients hospitalized with influenza.   Buffalo's median age is approximately 3 years older than Rochester's - so it is possible that Buffalo-area deaths are in fact greater than what they have reported.   

And they are likely to rise.  Burstein says typically Influenza A cases peak in mid-February, but the surge of Influenza B cases often lasts into spring

From NYS, as of Jan. 27, 2018:

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