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.