Tag Archives: Debra Spicehandler MD

Activate Your Defenses Against the Flu

Posted on: October 12, 2015

Activate Your Defenses Against the Flu

This year, government analysis indicates the vaccine will be a good match for this year’s flu strains. Read on…

By Dr. Debra Spicehandler

Believe it or not, it’s already flu shot time. If you haven’t already scheduled one, now is the time. Gaining full immunity can take about two weeks, and you want to make sure you’re protected before the flu begins circulating in your community.

You may have heard that last year’s vaccine didn’t offer as much protection as usual, but that’s no reason to skip the shot this year. Developing the yearly flu vaccine is a complex process: Several months in advance of flu season, public health officials have to predict which strain of flu virus will be most prevalent come winter in order to give vaccine makers time to produce the nearly 180 million doses America requires. Occasionally, the predictions miss the target—or the target moves. In 2014, the flu virus mutated after the vaccine had shipped. As a result, the shots were only about 13% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year, a recent government analysis indicates the vaccine will be a good match for this year’s flu strains. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccine, which now comes as a needle injection, a jet (air) injection, and a nasal spray. You can get vaccinated at your doctor’s office, your workplace, or at local pharmacies, health departments, and schools.

Flu shots are available right now, and the sooner you get your dose the better. It takes about two weeks for immunity to kick in, and you want to be sure you have immunity before the virus starts circulating in your area. People who should be first in line are those at higher risk for complications from the flu, such as the elderly, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. You can rest assured that the vaccine is safe; the only reason to avoid it is if you have a history of an allergic reaction to the shot. (By the way, you do need to get a shot every year—immunity doesn’t carry over.)

In order to protect against catching the flu, get the vaccine and be careful to always wash your hands. If symptoms do develop, see your doctor. If you test positive for the flu, you can get a prescription for antiviral drugs, which can reduce your symptoms and help you heal faster.

Find a flu vaccine location near you…

Editor’s Note:
Debra Spicehandler, MD is Co-Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at Northern Westchester Hospital

TwitterFacebookShare |

Infectious Diseases Expert Explains Legionnaires’ Outbreak in the Bronx

Posted on: July 30, 2015

Infectious Diseases Expert Explains Legionnaires’ Disease

By Dr. Debra Spicehandler

With reports of cases of Legionnaires’ disease cases rising to 31 in the South Bronx, individuals should know the symptoms, and that it is treatable. I have seen one case at Northern Westchester Hopsital this month. Legionnaires’ disease is not rare. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of pneumonia. However, it can be treated with antibiotics including Erythromycin, Zithromax, or Levaquin.

Continue reading

Flu Season is Upon Us

Posted on: January 14, 2015

Flu 9401Flu season is upon us.  Therefore, it is important to understand what you can do to prevent getting the flu.  Simple steps include frequent hand-washing, keeping your hands away from your mouth and face, and getting a flu vaccination.

Annual outbreaks of seasonal flu usually occur during the fall through early spring, and in a typical year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu.

This year the peak of the flu season is expected in February. However, there are effective ways to avoid the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 43 states are reporting widespread flu outbreaks, including New York State. Across the state, including Westchester County and New York City, nearly 4,000 cases of the flu have been confirmed.

Continue reading

Northern Westchester Hospital Infectious Diseases Expert Talks Mosquitoes

Posted on: July 11, 2014

Mosquito Menace

By Dr. Debra Spicehandler, MD

mosquitoYou might feel like mosquitoes are mostly an annoyance in summer, wrecking the perfect picnic or barbecue with their buzzing and itchy bites. But, weighing in at approximately 2.5 milligrams, these minuscule menaces can really pack a punch carrying some nasty diseases as well, which is why you should take steps to avoid being bitten.

Continue reading

Westchester Infectious Disease Specialist on Lyme Disease Prevention

Posted on: September 25, 2012

Tick Tock: Time to Watch Out for Lyme

An Interview with Dr. Debra Spicehandler

Heading out for a hike, the last thing you want to think about is getting sick. Unfortunately, anywhere there are deer ticks (blacklegged ticks) there’s a potential that you could contract Lyme disease. Over 16,000 new cases of Lyme are reported each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Lyme isn’t the only concern, says Debra Spicehandler, MD, an infectious diseases specialist and Co-Chair of the Infection Control Committee at Northern Westchester Hospital. Dr. Spicehandler shares a bit about Lyme disease, what to look out for, and how to stay safe while enjoying the outdoors.

Continue reading