Montgomery County has most flu-like cases in state

The amount of flu-related hospitalizations in the Miami Valley has nearly doubled in one week and increased in other parts of the state as well, prompting health officials to declare the flu “widespread” in Ohio.

The amount of flu activity sharply increased in the month of December. “Widespread” means that all parts of the state are seeing flu activity, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“Influenza is impacting every corner of the state,” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health. “It’s been evolving very quickly.”

The week prior, the flu was considered “regional” in the state, meaning just under half the state was seeing flu activity, Hurst said.

Data released on Friday by the Ohio Department of Health shows that from the start of flu season through Dec. 21, there were 117 influenza-related hospitalizations in Montgomery County. The Ohio Department of Health releases new flu data every Friday.

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In the period before, from Dec. 8 to Dec. 14, there were 64 flu-related hospitalizations. There were 53 hospitalizations between Dec. 14 and Dec. 21.

Montgomery County has the most flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Disease reporting system.

Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, had 78 flu-related hospitalizations in that same period. Hamilton County, the county Cincinnati is in, had 55. Franklin County, the most populous county in the state, is not seeing flu activity like Montgomery County has.

Franklin County has only had 38 flu-related hospitalizations.

“Clearly west central Ohio has been hit hard,” Hurst said.

Statewide, as of Dec. 21, there have been more than 600 flu-related hospitalizations this flu season.

From the start of flu season to Dec. 21, there were seven cases in Miami County, 16 in Greene, 18 in Butler, 16 in Clark and 25 in Warren counties.

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The flu vaccine takes up to two weeks to become fully effective and it is recommended for anyone over six months of age. The only people who should not get a flu shot are those who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past.

Hurst said the flu is very unpredictable, but it is possible flu activity could continue to escalate from here.

It is not too late to get a flu shot, Hurst said.

“I absolutely recommend getting a flu vaccine,” Hurst said. “Flu season lasts well into the spring and it is possible that you could get sick later in the season.”

Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications, including older adults, young children, pregnant women, and people with long-term health conditions health department officials said.

Hurst said it is also important to pay attention to general health by regularly washing hands and staying home if sick, among other things.

“Be cautious this New Year’s,” Hurst said. “The closer you are to someone, the more at risk you are of catching any illness or virus they may be carrying.”

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