Flu hitting hard in the North Country

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) It's been a bad start to the flu season, especially in the North Country. To help put it into perspective, the Clinton County Health Department says we are already seeing 200 more cases than last year, and the season isn't even over yet.

"It's pretty disgusting," said Peggy LaBombard, a public health nurse.

That's most people's reaction when they see someone in coughing in public.

"You've just recently coughed and people walk through that cloud of virus that you just expelled into their air that they're breathing in. They are going to get the flu," LaBombard said.

You've heard the symptoms before.

"Many people come in with various flu symptoms including cough, body aches, fevers, chills, feeling very weak, tired, fatigued," said Dr. Michael McMahon, an emergency physician.

And you'll probably hear them again. It's because it is so easy to spread.

"It is easily spread from person to person by respiratory droplets," LaBombard said.

The best way to prevent spreading the flu is to make sure you have tissues and cover your cough if you're coughing or sneezing in public. To make sure you don't get it-- have plenty of hand sanitizer around you at all times. But the best remedy, they say, is if you don't feel 100 percent, just stay home.

"We really don't know why it's so bad. We do know that all four strains are circulating," LaBombard said.

"What we still really like to impart on people is that the flu vaccination is particularly important and it's never too late to get the vaccine," McMahon said.

And he says you should even though it's only about 30 percent effective this year. Everyone older than 65 or children and infants are at high risk for the flu. Health experts say they should all be vaccinated and so should anyone who spends a lot of time with them.

"The flu is deadly and we see many deaths each year. This year it's been particularly tough," McMahon said.

LaBombard with Clinton County Department of Health says these numbers are some of the worst we've seen in recent years.

"Everyone talks about the 2014-15 flu season being a bad season-- we are nearly at those total season records right now," LaBombard said.

And it's not just us, it's the whole country.

"In the United States we are region to widespread across the nation," LaBombard said.