- Michael Cooper
- Bonnie Melbers Staff Writer
Flu activity in Ohio has become widespread, the state’s highest designation, nearly a month earlier than last year and has resulted in a number of hospitalizations in Clark County already.
Last year flu activity didn’t reach this level statewide until mid-January, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Hospitalizations due to the flu started to increase in December and peaked the last week of February.
Clark County saw more than 40 flu-related hospitalizations during the last flu season, a majority of which involved people ages 60 and older, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.
Clark County has seen about 10 hospitalizations for Influenza A since Sept. 9, including seven between Dec. 12 and 19, Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said.
“That’s not an anomaly,” he said. “That’s telling us it has really arrived.”
The district has seen more cases in some year, Patterson said, but has also seen less in other years.
Unfortunately a wave of flu illnesses has hit right before the holidays, Patterson said, meaning it will likely spread as people attempt to celebrate, not just in Ohio but other states.
“We have to wait and see what happens from there,” he said.
The health district likely won’t hear about someone missing work or school for a week because of the flu virus, Patterson said.
Champaign County hasn’t had any hospitalizations for the virus during this season, Champaign County Health Commissioner Gabe Jones said.
“We’re crossing our fingers up here,” Jones said.
So far this flu season, the state has recorded 401 flu-associated hospitalizations across Ohio. Such hospitalizations are trending above the five-year average. Last year a total of more than 8,600 flu-associated hospitalizations were reported statewide.
At least four children died from flu-related complications in northeast Ohio during the previous flu season, according to the state health department earlier this year.
There were seven flu-related pediatric deaths during the previous two flu seasons combined, ODH reported.
Dayton Children’s admitted its first child with flu symptoms this season during the week of Dec. 4 but Ohio hasn’t seen any pediatric deaths so far.
The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu shot as soon as possible. It’s not too late to get a flu shot, health officials said.
“When the flu hits you, the average adult or child is down for several days,” Patterson said.
The health district recommends staying home if your sick with either the flu or norovirus, which is also spreading locally, he said.
“The best gift they can give their loved ones and friends is to not infect their friends with influenza or norovirus because they want to go to holiday parties a little bit too early,” Patterson said.
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