Influenza prevalent in New York state

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker recently declared influenza as prevalent in New York state.

In accordance with the New York State Sanitary Code, all health care and residential facilities and agencies regulated by the public health law must ensure that all personnel, as defined in the regulation, not vaccinated against influenza for the current influenza season wear a surgical or procedure mask while in areas where patients or residents may be present.

This declaration will remain in effect until the commissioner declares influenza is no longer prevalent in the state.

The best protection against contracting influenza includes:

— Frequent and thorough hand washing

— Covering all coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a handkerchief or a tissue, use the crook of your arm, not your hand.

— Staying home from work, school or social events if you have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and pains or other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting sometimes associated with influenza

— Avoiding people exhibiting symptoms of a flu-like illness

If you have flu-like symptoms that are severe and persistent, you should contact your health care provider.

The hospitals practice “respiratory etiquette” in their emergency departments, urgent cares and primary care medical offices. Each waiting area has masks for patients to wear to cover their cough, tissues and hand sanitizer for good hand hygiene. Those seeking treatment and have any flu-like symptoms with upper respiratory problems will be asked to wear a mask and may be isolated from other patients.