Public health agencies across the Miami Valley are reporting a spike in flu cases and hospitalizations as a flu outbreak affects a wide area, including Clark, Greene and Montgomery Counties.
Numbers show hundreds of people in the Miami Valley have sought treatment for the flu since early December. Health officials report seeing more than 3,000 hospitalizations and outpatient flu cases.
But those numbers are likely an undercount, says Greene County Public Health nurse Amy Schmitt. Many people don’t see a doctor for their symptoms, she says.
And flu cases often tend to spike after the holidays.
“With people gathering together, typically that's what we see early in January. It is an increase and I think that's why we certainly made note of it, and then it gives Public Health an opportunity to educate folks in the community," she says.
Data from the Clark County Combined Health District and the state Department of Health show West Central Ohio has the highest number of flu-related hospitalizations in the state, with the most in Montgomery county. Clark currently has the third-highest number of flu-related hospitalizations.
To avoid becoming infected, Schmitt recommends regular hand-washing. Other prevention tips include using alcohol-based sanitizers, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, covering coughs and sneezes, and getting plenty of rest.
For anyone already sick with the flu, health officials advise staying home until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone aged six months and older. But CDC officials caution it takes about two weeks for the flu shot’s protective antibodies to develop.