This time last year officials warned of a dangerous strain of flu making its way across Clark County and the rest of the state.
This year, however, flu cases have remained low so far, according to data from the Clark County Combined Health District.
Zero flu-related hospitalizations had been reported through Dec. 19, a spokeswoman with the local health district said. The district tracks emergency room visits for fever and influenza-like illness. The flu season began season began Oct. 1.
Flu activity across the region is minimal, according to the data, but Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said residents should still take precautions to protect themselves.
“Although flu activity is currently low in Clark County, we are urging the public to help keep it that way by continuing to use good technique in covering their cough and by getting their flu shot,” Patterson said.
In Champaign County, one person has been hospitalized with the flu, Champaign County Health Commissioner Gabe Jones said. There have been five positive flu cases in Champaign County since the start of October, he said.
Across Ohio, the numbers also are low so far. There have been 198 hospitalizations due to the flu statewide through Dec. 8, according to Ohio Department of Health’s most recent numbers.
“Public health surveillance data sources indicate minimal intensity for influenza-like illness in outpatient settings reported by Ohio’s sentinel providers,” the state health department said in a news release. “The percentage of emergency department visits with patients exhibiting constitutional symptoms and fever and flu-like symptoms specified (emergency room) visits are below baseline levels.”
The number of influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio last season was the highest in five years, according to the final state flu season data released in May. The 17,397 flu-related hospitalizations reported for the 2017-18 flu season were more than twice as many as the 2016-17 season’s 8,661 cases reported by the Ohio Department of Health.
“Last year was the worst flu season we’ve had in years,” Patterson has previously said. “We don’t want a repeat of that and that’s another reason why we want people to follow through and get the vaccine.”
Vaccines were cited as a reason for the high number of cases last flu season. The strain of the disease included in last year’s vaccine didn’t end up matching the strain that became the most widespread, officials said.
This year’s vaccine appears to be doing a more effective job. However, it’s not the only way to avoid getting sick this winter season. Residents also should make sure they are maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and washing their hands regularly to avoid getting infected with the flu, health officials said.