Bensonhurst

Report: Brooklyn hit hard by flu epidemic

January 29, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A sign outside a Rite Aid on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst advises residents to get their flu shots in the pharmacy. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

Numerous cases found in Borough Park, Sunset Park

Coughing and sneezing are quickly becoming the most common sounds heard on Brooklyn streets these days.

The flu has been making its presence felt in Brooklyn this season, according to 1010WINS, which reported yesterday morning that two neighborhoods, Borough Park and Sunset Park, are two of the hardest hit communities in the entire city. 

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Maimonides Medical Center, located at 4802 10th Ave. in Borough Park, has seen so many influenza cases that hospital officials have had to place extra beds in the hallways to accommodate the additional flu patients. 

Maimonides officials did not return phone calls from the Brooklyn Eagle. 

The flu has become so serious that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) urged the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help New York State deal with it by sending a special “domestic flu surveillance team” here. Schumer said a surveillance team could help hospitals that are being inundated with flu cases. 

“A New York specific flu surveillance team would help take the state’s temperature on the epidemic and help break its fever. With record-setting highs this season, it’s absolutely critical that New York have the resources it needs to track the flu’s path, gather intelligence and combat this powerful virus. The CDC should immediately designate a special domestic flu surveillance team for New York to hone in on the virus and augment the great work of our local hospitals and health departments,” Schumer said in a statement.

The flu surveillance team would be tasked with collecting and analyzing data on the impact of the flu and zeroing in on where the flu activity is taking place. In addition the team would determine the exact strain of the flu that is currently circulating, detect changes in the flu virus and measure the impact on hospitalizations.

The flu has hit more than 5,000 New York state residents so far this season, according to Schumer, who said that as of Jan. 18, the weekly rate of New Yorkers hospitalized with influenza was the highest it has ever been since the Department of Health began reporting the figures in 2004. 

Schumer has sent a letter to Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC, to outline his request for a domestic flu surveillance team.

According to the New York City Department of Health (DOH), influenza is a respiratory infection that can lead to a fever, a cough and a sore throat.

Even elected officials are not immune. In December, Mayor Bill de Blasio came down with the flu and had to cancel a town hall meeting he had scheduled on the Upper East Side, the New York Post reported.

More than 2,000 New Yorkers die of the flu and pneumonia each year, the DOH said.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot, according to the CDC.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to allow pharmacists to offer flu shots to children ages under age 18 so that more New Yorkers are vaccinated against the infection.

“With flu cases reaching epidemic proportions in New York, we must do everything in our power to fight this virus and keep New Yorkers safe,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Once again, I urge all New Yorkers to help us combat this quick-spreading strain of flu and make sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated.”

In addition to getting a flu shot, here are some other ways to avoid getting the flu, according to the CDC:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water.

  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth because that is how germs are spread.

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

For more information on how to stay healthy during the flu season, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov