Clark County health officials warn of local flu spike

Clark County has seen a significant increase in flu hospitalizations in the past three weeks.

So far, 31 confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations have taken place in Clark County since Dec. 17, health officials say, which is more than four times the amount between Oct. 1 and Dec. 16.

“It is concerning that so many people are being affected,” Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. “The public should be diligent to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

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It’s a good idea to get a flu shot if possible, Patterson said, although the strain of flu Clark County is currently battling is known to mutate quickly.

Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 16, Clark County had seven flu hospitalizations, according to the Clark County Combined Health District. Even fewer cases were reported in September.

The timing of the spike isn’t unusual, Patterson said, as the holidays are wrapping up and the cold is sending people indoors. However, the number of people getting sick prompted health leaders from the combined health district and Mercy Health- Springfield to remind residents that it’s important to take precautions to protect themselves from influenza.

“The most common ways of spreading are coughs and sneezes,” Patterson said. “People need to be sure they are getting rest, eating healthy and getting exercise. Also, stay away from people who are sick.”

The flu is common and more than 8,000 cases of the virus were reported in Ohio last flu season, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, according to the health department.

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“Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal,” the Clark County health district said in a statement.

People who get the flu need to make sure they’re doing their part to not spread it, Patterson said. That means staying home from school or work.

“Stay away for at least 24 hours after their fever breaks — and that’s without pain relievers,” Patterson said.

Other things that someone with the flu can do to help prevent its spread include restricting visitors when sick, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and washing hands often or using hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available, according to the health district.

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The Center for Disease Control recommends anyone who has the flu to get anti-viral medication to help end the breakout, Patterson said, but getting plenty of rest typically helps cure it. It’s also important to monitor symptoms.

“If they have respiratory distress, meaning they are having trouble breathing, then they need to seek medical treatment for that,” Patterson said.

Also, women who are pregnant who believe they might have the flu should contact their health-care provider immediately, according to the health district.

By the numbers

31: Flu hospitalzations since Dec. 17 in Clark County

38: Flu hospitalzations since Oct. 1 in Clark County.

8,661: Flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio the previous flu season

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