Flu hitting Ohio hard, local cases on rise

Flu cases on the rise in the Youngstown, Ohio area.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The flu seems to be hitting Ohio hard.

About 450 people have been hospitalized, compared to only 135 cases a year ago, and the state health department confirmed the first flu-related death: A 15-year-old girl from southern Ohio.

Northside Medical Center’s Emergency Department has seen a 25 percent increase in patients over the past few weeks, many because of the flu.

“This one is hitting the older and the very young,” Dr. Philip Howren of Northside Medical Center said.

Howren said they are seeing cases much earlier than last flu season, especially since one of the influenza strains is not in this year’s vaccine.

“So even people who have been immunized are still getting the flu,” Howren said.

He still suggested that everyone be vaccinated and take other precautions.

The doctor said some of the best advice to protect people from the flu is by covering their cough and thoroughly washing their hands. But even that does not always help.

Howren explains how to know if someone has the flu.

“The characteristics of the influenza virus are fever, cough and headache,” Howren said.

What should someone do if they start to get these symptoms?

“You have to be seen early if you are going to be treated with some of the anti-flu medications. If you wait two or three days, it does not do any good. Plus, complications like pneumonia can kick in at any time,” Howren said.

He said if not treated, the flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia or dehydration and people who are sick should seek medical help.

“Certainly you could see the emergency department, your personal doctor or the urgent care center,” Howren said.

Since mid-October, Salem Regional Medical Center has seen 16 confirmed cases of influenza in its Emergency Department. Four of those patients were admitted to the hospital, Salem Regional spokesperson Michelle Hoffmeister said.Seasonal influenza is an illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. The virus that causes the flu is spread from person to person by droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air, or by handling items that are contaminated by an infected person, Hoffmeister said in an email.Because the amount of influenza is increasing, Salem Regional Medical Center is asking potential visitors to help protect our patients by not visiting if they are not feeling well. They are encouraged to phone the patient or send a free e-card by visiting the hospital’s website.

Akron Children’s Hospital also is reminding visitors of its existing policy that for the protection of patients, they encourage visitors to only come if they are healthy and have no symptoms of illness. If families are not able to visit, the hospital encourages them to stay connected with loved ones by sending an ecard or communicating with them via social media.
Akron Children’s Hospital also published a blog on the flu, which can be found here.


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