Flu hospitalizes 3K+ Ohioans in past month

JENNA LAWSON/STAFF
JENNA LAWSON/STAFF

More than 3,000 Ohioans have been hospitalized from the flu in the past month, including 950 people reported in the latest weekly update by Ohio Department of Health.

This pushes the state to 8,545 flu-related hospitalizations for the season as of March 1, up from 7,592 the week before that. This includes 652 Montgomery County residents, 125 Greene County residents and 68 Miami County residents.

“The flu season has been particularly hard hitting this season, hospitalizations have been up, but it’s still not too late to get your flu shot,” said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

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The virus can be especially dangerous for people who are very young or elderly, people with compromised or weakened immune systems, people with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women. But anyone can get the flu and have serious complications and flu shots are advised for everyone six months and older.

Two Ohio children have also died from flu this season. Adult deaths are not tracked at the state or county level.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks. More than 174 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed.

According to preliminary CDC estimates, from Oct. 1 through Feb. 29, about 34 million to 49 million people in the U.S. have had the flu, 350,000 to 620,000 have been sent to the hospital for flu-related reasons, and about 20,000 to 52,000 people have died.

Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throad, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and tiredness.

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

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Along with getting vaccinated, good practices to stop the spread of the virus include staying home when sick, practicing good hand washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and covering your coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue.

Health officials have emphasized that these prevention and hygiene practices could also help people avoid the coronavirus that’s part of the outbreak. In Ohio, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Suffoletto said that it is also important to prevent the flu because health care facilities might need that capacity for the coronavirus outbreak.

”We want to redouble our efforts in keeping people safe from the flu because with the emerging COVID-19 outbreak, we want to make sure there’s enough medical facilities available for those who may be sick with COVID-19,” he said.

Flu vaccines are available by appointment through Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County at the Reibold Building at 117 S. Main St. Call 937-225-5700 to make an appointment. Vaccinefinder.org can also be used to locate options.

Pharmacies, doctors, retail clinics and some work places also have flu shots available.

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