CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Although the cold weather is behind us, cases of influenza remain high in New York. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) warned on May 23 that influenza remained geographically widespread. This marked the 26th week of widespread cases in New York since the “season” began last fall.

Influenza, or “the flu,” is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, lungs, and other parts of the body. It can be spread quickly from person to person, and symptoms start one to four days after exposure. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Typically, the NYSDOH conducts surveillance for influenza starting in October and continues this through May. However, due to the continued increase in cases, the DOH has confirmed that surveillance will continue past May until flu activity has decreased.

Local public health departments are urging individuals to follow the same precautions as they follow with COVID-19 during this time. This includes staying home when sick, getting tested, hand washing, and wearing a mask in indoor public spaces if the county is in a high-transmission zone for the flu.

The annual flu vaccine is also still being administered for this influenza season. Health officials say that this is the best way to reduce flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and death from the virus.