Two people have died from the flu in Clark County in the last month as flu-related hospitalizations have increased across Ohio.
In Clark County, the local health district has investigated 69 cases of influenza this flu season, according to the combined health district’s epidemiologist Anna Jean Petroff.
Both victims who died from the flu were elderly, she said. The first died at the end of January and the second died in the beginning of February, Petroff said.
In Champaign County, three people have been hospitalized this flu season, but no deaths have been recorded, Champaign County Health District Commissioner Gabe Jones said.
All three cases were found within the last month, Jones said, with the most recent being discovered on Feb. 20.
The best way to prevent spreading the virus is by being responsible and staying home when sick, Clark County Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said.
“If you cough or sneeze, you can easily spread that to other individuals,” Patterson said. “If you are unable to control the symptoms and you have shortness of breath, you need to follow up with your physician immediately.”
Throughout Ohio, from Feb. 10 to Feb. 16, there were 534 new flu hospitalizations in Ohio, less than half of the 1,135 reported in the same period last year. But, new flu hospitalizations are also trending above the five-year average for the first time during this flu season, which runs from October to May.
“Flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu, which can lead to missed work and school, and cause other serious health complications,” said Clint Koenig, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health. “Pregnant women, young children and people who already have serious medical conditions are especially at risk for serious complications from the flu.”
ODH is reporting 3,178 flu hospitalizations so far this season, down from 11,915 during the same time period last year.
The number of influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio last season was the highest in five years, according to the final state flu season data. The figures were prompted by an early start, early peak and long season, officials said.
The 17,397 flu-related hospitalization cases reported for the 2017-18 flu season were more than twice as many as the previous season’s 8,661 cases reported by the Ohio Department of Health. At its peak in January 2018, there were more than 1,800 Ohio flu-related hospitalizations in one week.
Four pediatric deaths have been reported in the state related to the flu, including one child in Dayton.
Public health officials mobilize each year to encourage vaccinations to slow the spread of the virus, which can lead not only to missed school or work but also death. ODH also encourages people to wash their hands with soap and water, avoid touching their eyes nose and mouth.
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