Families, who share the same household, are especially vulnerable to the flu, Walerstein said, which is very contagious. To prevent such exposure, he said, it is important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds after every sneeze, and each time you touch your mouth or eyes.
As of Jan. 10, the NUMC had not recorded any fatalities as a result of influenza-like illnesses, but, Walerstein said, “In the normal flu season there are fatalities, particularly in the very young and very old.”
Those who fear a unique strain of the virus can breathe a sigh of relief. According to Walerstein, the flu now going around is the one that was anticipated when this year’s vaccine was created. “It’s not a new strain,” he said. “It’s not something strange or bizarre.”
But he cautioned that it is still a very aggressive strain. “The routine flu is a serious illness, particularly for those who have underlying illnesses,” he said, “and we really have to take this seriously right now.”
East Meadow resident Pam Kimler is one of many East Meadow residents who fell victim to the virus. She experienced symptoms for more than a month before she finally went to the NUMC in early January for treatment.
Kimler, who grew up and still lives in the community, has been married to her husband Larry for 36 years. They have three grown children, and one of whom still lives at home.
She said she became ill the week before Thanksgiving, and visited her local physician. Kimler, who is in her mid-50s, hadn’t received a flu shot, and was not allowed to get one while she was suffering from a bad head cold, and was given antibiotics instead. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with bronchitis.
She said her health improved after that, but she still was unable to fully shake her symptoms until Christmastime, and that is when both Larry — who had received his flu shot — and her son, David, 26, became ill. “I’m thinking, ‘How lucky am I that [my llness] wasn’t so bad, yet these two have zero appetite and basically in bed for five days each,’” she said.