Ohio flu hospitalizations spike

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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8 ways to avoid getting sick this winter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

New flu-related hospitalizations in Ohio have increased the last three weeks in a row after declining in January.

From Feb. 10 to Feb. 16 there were 534 new flu hospitalizations in Ohio, less than half of the 1,135 reported in the same period last year. But, new flu hospitalizations are also trending above the five-year average for the first time during this flu season, which runs from October to May.

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“Flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu, which can lead to missed work and school, and cause other serious health complications,” said Clint Koenig, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health. “Pregnant women, young children and people who already have serious medical conditions are especially at risk for serious complications from the flu.”

ODH is reporting 3,178 flu hospitalizations so far this season, down from 11,915 during the same time period last year. Three children have died from the flu during the the 2018-2019 season, according to the state.

The number of influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio last season was the highest in five years, according to the final state flu season data.

The figures were prompted by an early start, early peak and long season, officials said.

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The 17,397 flu-related hospitalization cases reported for the 2017-18 flu season were more than twice as many as the previous season’s 8,661 cases reported by the Ohio Department of Health.

At its peak in January 2018, there were more than 1,800 Ohio flu-related hospitalizations in one week. There were also four pediatric deaths this season related to the flu, including one child in Dayton.

Public health officials mobilize each year to encourage vaccinations to slow the spread of the virus, which can lead to not only missed school or work but also death. ODH also encourages people to wash their hands with soap and water, avoid touching their eyes nose and mouth and to stay home if they get sick.

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