Ohio Currently Experiencing Widespread Flu Activity
Flu season in Ohio does not usually go into high gear until January or February but this year the state saw the number of influenza-related hospitalizations almost triple by early December. Currently, Ohio's level of flu activity is at “regional,” which means that there have been outbreaks of influenza and increases in influenza-like illness cases in at least two but less than half of the regions in the state.
The current flu season started in October of 2012. As of April 17, 2013, four influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported. Last season, no pediatric deaths were reported, and one was reported in the 2010-11 season.
Also during the current flu season, 5,125 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported, as of the week ending April 13, 2013. The current number of hospitalizations compares to 595 in the 2011-12 season.
The chart below, which shows the number of confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported in Ohio, clearly shows how quickly flu season developed this year. The blue line represents how flu season typically develops in Ohio. In contrast, the red line shows the dramatic and early increase that we saw earlier this season and the general decrease that has occured more recently. The Ohio Department of Health will continue to monitor hospitalization data along with other data sources to track influenza activity across the state.
Please click on the links below to see the current level of flu activity in Ohio and in the country:
What is Seasonal Influenza?
Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is an illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. It is usually spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Flu season in Ohio can begin as early as October and run as late as March.
Most people who get the flu usually recover in one to two weeks, but the flu can be deadly. On average, 3,000 people across the country die from pneumonia and/or influenza each year. Not all of these deaths are directly related to the flu but many are – and possibly could be prevented with a flu vaccine.
The 2012 seasonal flu vaccine protects against three separate influenza viruses that scientists predict will be the most common during the upcoming season (H3N2, H1N1 and influenza B).
This season's flu vaccine does NOT protect against the influenza A H3N2v. However, the last H3N2v case in Ohio was reported on September 14, 2012. Almost all H3N2v cases resulted from close contact with swine. At this time, H3N2v does not appear to spread easily from person to person, and ODH does not anticipate many cases during flu season.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine experts are again this year recommending that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, the CDC notes it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years of age with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children younger than 6 months of age (children younger than 6 months are at highest risk of flu-related complications but are too young to get vaccinated)
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu