Ohio flu activity elevated to highest level; ‘perfect time to get your flu shot’

As schools and offices close for the holidays and families and friends gather to celebrate, they may find an unwelcome guest among them— influenza.

Flu activity in Ohio has now been elevated to the highest level, “widespread,” the Ohio Department of Health said Monday.

“Widespread just means that we are seeing it in all pockets of the state,” Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato said, “from northeast to southwest.”

Hospitalization numbers are well above last year and above the five-year average.

RELATED: Flu cases increase, first case admitted at Dayton Children’s

Last year, flu activity did not reach this level until mid-January. Hospitalizations due to the flu last year started to increase in December and peaked the last week of February.

So far this flu season, there have been 401 flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio, and 45 of those have been in Montgomery County. That is the highest count of flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio.

Dayton Children’s admitted its first child with flu symptoms the week of Dec. 4. That same week, there were 144 new hospitalizations because of the flu in Ohio. That same week last year, there were 29.

These hospitalizations are trending above the five-year average. Last year there were 8,661 flu-associated hospitalizations total.

Flu hospitalizations 
Hospitalizations between Oct. 1 and Dec. 9 are listed by county. 
CountyFlu-associated hospitalizations
Source: Ohio Department of Health

RELATED: Flu season: Doctors recommend not playing ‘viral roulette’

Ohio has not seen any pediatric deaths this flu season. Last year, there were six.

Australia and other parts of the southern hemisphere, which experience an earlier flu season than the U.S., saw record high hospitalizations because of the flu.

Strains in the southern hemisphere often spread to North America and Europe, but Dan Suffoletto, public information supervisor for Public Health Dayton - Montgomery County, said the flu is unpredictable.

“Each flu season is different,” Suffoletto said. “There are always peaks and valleys.”

It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to take full effect.

RELATED: 7 way to prevent your child from getting the flu this season

“Now is the perfect time to get your flu shot before the holidays,” Amato said, to prevent spreading the virus to loved ones.

Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, avoiding others who may have the flu or avoiding others if you have the flu are some tips that Suffoletto gave to keep it at bay.

“If you think you have symptoms of the flu, go see a doctor before it is too late,” Amato said.

But Suffoletto said, “It is not too late to get your flu shot.”

Amato agreed.

“There are no shortages of vaccines available,” she said.

The Ohio Department of Health recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot as soon as possible.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Health

Did you want extra tarantula on that hamburger?

When it comes to food, there aren’t a lot of things I won’t try. But I draw the line at eating any species I ever had as pets. There are some exceptions. Although as a child I briefly had a pair of rabbits given to me on Easter, I eventually bent the rule and sampled jugged hare on a trip to England. And I will order duck a l’orange...
What is a ‘welding rodeo’? Here’s the unique way area students are reusing scrap metal
What is a ‘welding rodeo’? Here’s the unique way area students are reusing scrap metal

Students from the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are gearing up for a unique fundraiser that will take their technical know-how to the next level. The SCCTC will host its sixth annual Welding Rodeo at the school today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m and Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. Juniors and seniors from the center will compete against each other...
‘Being LGBTQ is not an illness’: Record number of states banning conversion therapy
‘Being LGBTQ is not an illness’: Record number of states banning conversion therapy

A record number of jurisdictions this year are taking aim at conversion therapy for minors: an attempt to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity through tactics as obvious as hypnosis or as subtle as inducing shame.  Almost 50 bills have been introduced in 24 states targeting conversion therapy, which has been discredited by dozens...
The flip phone is the new protest statement
The flip phone is the new protest statement

NEW YORK — Exactly one year ago, Roman Cochet swapped his $500 iPhone 7 for a $30 LG flip phone. Overwhelmed by constant alerts, Cochet felt his time was disrupted, his creativity drained. His flip doesn’t do email, Instagram, Facebook, Uber or news alerts. The 30-year-old Parisian painter, who lives in Brooklyn, said he regrets nothing...
Identity theft one of fastest growing crimes

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 2.68 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2017. This equated to over $602 million dollars lost to identity thieves. Identity theft can come in many forms, such as credit card fraud, bank and loan fraud, utilities...
More Stories