Long, Difficult Flu Season Landing More New Yorkers in Hospitals

The flu has landed a growing number of New Yorkers in the hospital, according to state health department statistics, indicating this year’s flu season could be a long and difficult one.

Last week, close to 1,300 patients were hospitalized with confirmed flu cases, up 12 percent from the week before.

“I feel like I’m dying. I can’t breathe,” said Mary Lynn Miller, a flu patient at Stony Brook University Hospital.

The Coram grandmother has been bedridden at the hospital since Monday.

"I never had the flu before," Miller said. "This is terrible."

According to hospital officials, Stony Brook has admitted an average 50 patients a week with flu-like symptoms since late last month. Other Long Island hospital systems also report an increase in the number of patients admitted with those same symptoms.

“We have had, for the last two or three years, an early onset of a particularly assertive flu season,” said Dr. Susan Donelan of Stony Brook’s division of infectious diseases.

This year’s flu strain, designated as H3N2, is a big reason, Donelan said, for the seriousness of the cases. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, H3N2-predominant seasons have been associated with more severe illness and mortality, especially in older people and young children.

“It’s just misery. For most people, it’s misery for several weeks,” Donelan said.

The flu vaccine has not been as effective against this year’s strain of the virus, Donelan added. But she still urged those who have not been vaccinated to get the flu shot.

Mary Lynn Miller is one person kicking herself for not heeding that advice. She has never had the flu shot.

"I don’t ever want to go through this again," Miller said. "I learned!"

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