BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Influenza has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States. The CDC says 7.3 percent of deaths last week were caused by pneumonia and the flu, just above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent.
In New York, the number of patients admitted to hospitals with confirmed cases spiked last week by 55 percent and at least two children have died.
A health official confirms to News 4 that a 32-year-old woman died at Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, but that her lab tests are still out and haven't confirmed that it was in fact the flu.
Dr. Joseph Bresee of the CDC said, "We are seeing hints that the Southeast part of the United States is seeing a little less flu than they did last week, which gives us hope that the flu seasons are starting to wane in some parts of the country."
Since 90 percent of flu deaths involve the elderly. The New York State Health Department only requires hospitals to report when a child or teenager dies of the flu.
NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah said, "To date in New York, we have had two pediatric deaths from the flu. New York averages about 1,400 deaths per year from the flu and based on the cases so far, we expect that to be worse."
Flu shots are still readily available in western New York, but if you think you already have influenza, don't go to the emergency room unless your symptoms are severe.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, "Most people can just manage themselves at home. For people who are concerned and want to seek advice from a healthcare provider, the best thing to do is call your primary care provider, because many times they can kind of walk you through what you need to do over the phone."
This season's flu shot fights off two new strains of the virus and is considered to be about 62 percent effective, which is about how effective most other flu shots have been in the past.
Investigators have pieced together who is responsible for dumping a dog on the side of the road inside a zipped up Coors Light thermal bag.
State Police need your help finding the pickup truck driver who pinned a mother against her vehicle as she was loading her baby and young son into it and then fled the scene.
A house became engulfed in flames on Route 243, in Rushford, early Wednesday morning.
The Cattraugus County Sheriff’s Office says a 17-year-old male from East Otto was arrested on Monday evening.
News 4 will get a tour of the new gaming floor at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel on Wednesday. The casino pumped $26 million into the main gaming floor.
The Mounted Patrol from the Erie County Sheriff’s Department is kicking off its annual Mounted for Meals food drive.