Flu activity has remained low so far this season but is increasing at a time when it was widespread last year.
As people are getting together with friends and family, it is important to practice good hygiene, said Dr. Jennifer Lee, a family medicine physician with Wright State Physicians. That includes washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough.
“As we are spending more time indoors, getting together in groups and traveling, flu can spread in all those ways as we are more in contact with people and staying inside,” Lee said.
The latest report from the Ohio Department of Health said 198 flu-related hospitalizations have been recorded around the state as of Dec. 8.
That includes nine in Montgomery County, five in Greene and three in Warren County since tracking started for the season on Oct. 1, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
“So far our flu numbers are low so that’s good. But we want to remind people that it’s still not too late to get their flu shot,” said Dan Suffoletto of Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.
When flu activity peaks, as well as the number of cases, changes from year to year.
Last season was a particularly widespread flu season in Ohio with nearly 17,400 hospitalizations and four child deaths. About 80,000 people died from the flu in the U.S. last season.
If you have the flu, it is important to stay home from holiday parties, work or school to prevent the spread of the virus.
Local health care providers advise that everyone six months or older should get a flu shot to reduce their risk of getting the virus.
“The more people that are vaccinated, the less people are going to get sick,” Lee said.
While flu shots are encouraged before the end of October, it’s not too late to get a vaccine from doctors’ offices, pharmacies, Public Health and urgent care centers. This year the nasal spray vaccine is also back after several years out of circulation.
Call the Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County clinic at 937-225-5700 to make an appointment for an immunization.
If someone gets the flu, the FDA approved this month the first generic version of Tamiflu, making flu treatment cheaper. Like the branded version, the generic is for treating patients within 48 hours of when flu-like symptoms appear. Symptoms include fevers, chills, coughing, muscle aches, congestion, headaches and fatigue.
The flu vaccine is about 40 to 60 percent effective. If a person still gets the flu after being vaccinated, they typically have less severe symptoms.
People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. The CDC said some otherwise healthy adults might be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time.