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Post-holiday sickness spreading through CNY

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — According to the CDC, cases of flu and COVID-19 are rising after the holiday season.

At least 31 states are seeing high levels of upper respiratory infections and Central New York is seeing a spike of its own.

“Our waiting rooms are filled with patients with all of the respiratory viruses right now,” said Kate Watson, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital.

The big three are COVID, RSV, and flu.

Watson says it’s pretty standard to see an influx after the holidays, and they certainly are.

“We’ve seen some of the highest volumes that we’ve seen in the last year.”

Kate Watson

Those most at-risk are typically older adults, young kids, and people with previous medical conditions.

However, you can still get sick even if you don’t fit into one of those categories.

Everyone always says, ‘Oh well I haven’t done anything I haven’t gone anywhere, why did I get sick?’ But you have gone places, you’ve gone to the grocery store, you’ve gone to the gas station.

Kate Watson

If you end up sneezing and sniffling, Watson says you shouldn’t go anywhere else.

“Don’t go and visit Grandpa if you have a fever and a cough. Even if you’re not that sick and will end up getting better, it doesn’t mean grandpa with his medical conditions won’t end up getting more severe symptoms and having hospitalization.”

Watson says the best ways to protect yourself are to get vaccinated, wash your hands, and stay home when you’re sick.

If you want to go even farther, wear a mask in public places.

As for the symptoms, they often overlap and can include a cough, fever, body aches, and headaches.

“This year with COVID, I’m seeing probably a little bit more nausea and diarrhea than I am with influenza,” said Watson.

She says it will likely take a few days to test positive for COVID using an at-home test, and if you have symptoms of a respiratory virus that aren’t improving, she suggests calling your doctor or urgent care.

“If you’re feeling short of breath, if you’re dehydrated, those are reasons to go to the emergency department for treatment,” she said.

Need a vaccine? Adults 60 and older can get the RSV vaccine, as well as pregnant women.

Those six months and older can get the flu and COVID shot.

However, officials say numbers are down. According to the CDC, about 42% of adults got a flu shot by the first week of December. That’s down from about 45% at the same time last year.

Only about 18% received the updated COVID-19 shot that became available in September, and only 17% of people 60 and older received new shots against RSV, according to the CDC.

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