Health - January 4, 2013


Flu season peaks early

The flu season has started off early this season and is spreading quickly.  Reported flu cases increased around the holidays last month and have continued to rise.  States across the nation and Canada are seeing astronomical numbers in terms of reported cases compared to this time last year.  Flu season typically hits the highest point around mid to late January or early February and then the season and continues through March.  The east coast and southeast seem to be particularly hard hit this year.  New York State has seen 15,000 cases so far this season compared to last year at this time when there were only 4,000 reported cases.   Pennsylvania has seen over 7,000 cases this season, a 45% increase over the last two weeks.  Over 30 states are seeing high numbers of reported cases and symptoms reported are also more severe than usual.  Experts say that the vaccine is well matched to the strains floating around this year and there is still time to get a flu shot.  Experts also recommend practicing good hygiene this time of year to prevent the spread of the flu.  For more information visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

Congress to vote on disaster relief funding for Hurricane Sandy victims

The 113thCongress is getting down to business today as they’re scheduled to vote on a $9.7 billion aid package to pay flood insurance claims.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency told Congress that the “National Flood Insurance Program will run out of money next week if Congress does not provide additional borrowing authority to pay out claims.”  Claims filed total about 140,000 with most of those still waiting to be paid out.  The storm caused billions of dollars of damage along the northeastern and mid-Atlantic seaboard and was the costly storm in the US since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Votes on additional recovery money are expected later this month.

Farm Show kicks off January 5

The 97thPennsylvania Farm Show kicks off tomorrow, with a “Made in Pennsylvania, It Makes a Difference” theme to highlight how agriculture helps drive Pennsylvania’s economy.  The Farm Show first started in 1917 and has continued to grow ever since.  The show features everything from Pennsylvania made products and foods, a rodeo, the 4-H program and even square dancing.  The food court at the Farm Show is always a big draw and the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association’s milkshakes are a crowd favorite.  New this year are a polo demonstration, new baking contests and at the food court: bacon on a stick.  The show will draw Pennsylvanians from all over the state and admission is free, though there is a charge for parking.  The show draws about half a million attendees every year. 

The butter sculpture is also a main feature every year; and last night the 2013 sculpture was unveiled.  Weighing almost 1,000 pounds the sculpture features “butter models of fruit, vegetables, dairy products and trees surround a 4-foot tall PA Preferred logo,” and was created by Jim Victor of Conshohocken, Pa.  The food court will be open this evening and the rest of the show opens tomorrow with opening ceremonies at 10:45 AM; the show closes on January 12.  For more information visit: http://www.farmshow.state.pa.us/