Fall Health Updates, From Allergies to Whooping Cough to the Flu

4:53 PM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If you're already dealing with the sniffles and sneezes, you're not alone. The fall allergy season is arriving early and will be worse than normal.

According to a report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Buffalo will have the 12th worst allergy season among the 100 largest cities in the country; that's much higher than our normal ranking (last year Buffalo was 36th).

The report says pollen will be especially bad this year.

Dr. Gale Burstein explained that our hot summer allowed the pollen to grow, and there wasn't much rain to wash it away.

Dust mites and fungi are also sources of allergy problems. A good household cleaning is your best defense there.

There are many non-drowsy over-the-counter medications for allergies; Dr. Burstein says consult with a pharmacist. If that's not enough, you should see a certified allergist.

Dr. Burstein has also heard from concerned parents recently regarding whooping cough, officially called Pertussis. The number of cases has exploded in recent years in Erie County, from 10 in 2008 to 27 by 2010 up to 136 so far this year.

Dr. Burstein says there isn't necessarily more of the illness; instead, there's an increased awareness by local health providers, who are doing more testing and getting more positive results. That's a good thing, Dr. Burstein says, because it means patients -- mostly kids -- are getting the care they need.

There is a vaccine for Pertussis available to both children and adults; Dr. Burstein encourages people to get it.

2 On Your Side also got an update on West Nile Virus. There are now nearly 4,000 cases nationwide leading to around 150 deaths.

Dr. Burstein says there are now 11 cases in Erie County, up from 9 last week. There is one case connected to a death, although West Nile was not considered the primary cause of death. She said the spread of the disease should decrease due to the colder temperatures coming in Western New York and across the country.

Finally, we got an update on the flu. Many business, pharmacies, even some libraries are offering the vaccine. Dr. Burstein said there's a new option this year. It's called an intradermal vaccine, and its micro-needle means it only goes through the superficial layers of the skin.

"That's another option for people that don't like big needles," Dr. Burstein said.

There are constant updates about public health issues on the Erie County Health Department's Web site.

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