Flu cases last week nearly top 10 previous weeks

Flu-related hospitalizations last week in Ohio were nearly equal to the previous 10 weeks, according to a report released Tuesday from the Ohio Department of Health.

During the week of Dec. 14-20, 935 new hospitalizations occurred in Ohio, up from the previous week’s 529. Last year in the same week, 331 people were hospitalized with flu.

Nearly 2,000 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported in Ohio since September. The report attributes the dramatic increase to the H3N2 flu strain, or influenza A.

“There’s something with the A strain that causes more severe symptoms in people and sends more people to the hospital,” said Melanie Amato, spokeswoman at the Ohio Department of Health.

Among Ohio’s confirmed hospitalizations this year, 177 have been children age 4 or younger, and 929 have been adults age 65 or older.

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There have been two flu-related pediatric deaths in Ohio — a 15-year-old girl in Lawrence County and a 16-year-old boy from Licking County. Adult influenza-associated deaths are not required to be reported to the state health department.

Area hospitals imposed restrictions on visitation Monday due to abnormally high rates of hospitalization. The restrictions include: No visitation by anyone who is ill with any respiratory symptoms including coughing or fever, and no visitation by anyone under age 14, even if they have received the seasonal flu vaccine.

“Hospitals generally have well established procedures and do a pretty good job following their protocols,” said Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health - Montgomery County & Dayton.

Amato recommended everyone get a flu shot.

“That’s the best recommendation,” she said. “You should also wash your hands, and cough and sneeze into your elbow.”

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