Officials predict bad flu season, urge precautions
Jan 11, 2013 at 5:10 AM
Flu cases are rising in the Sandusky area and across Ohio in what appears to be a pretty bad flu season. Local health officials are urging everyone to get a flu shot, wash their hands carefully and avoid coughing and sneezing in their hands.
The Ohio Health Department said in December, Ohio experienced a “dramatic and early increase” in flu cases, which normally peak in March.
During the last week of December, the most recent numbers available on the state’s website, there were 368 flu-related hospitalizations in Ohio, with flu activity considered “widespread.”
The federal government’s Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported Jan. 4 that 29 states, including Ohio, are reporting high levels of influenza-like illness.
Diane Kokinda, R.N., the director of nursing for Ottawa County’s health department, told her board Tuesday night the spike in flu cases in Ottawa County have helped boost interest in obtaining flu
“They’re calling and asking what our availability of clinics are,” she said.
Body aches and sore throats seem to be the consistent symptoms, Kokinda said.
Erie County’s health department said it still has a limited number of flu vaccine doses for two groups considered especially at risk: Infants and toddlers from six months to 35 months old, and adults 65 and older.
“We’ve only got basically one to two admissions for flu into the local hospitals. That’s data through yesterday,” said Erie County’s health commissioner, Pete Schade. “We’re not seeing people being hospitalized at the rate that some of the bigger cities are.”
The department has about 350 doses of the high-dose vaccine for seniors and a couple of hundred doses for young children.
“We’ve got a few dozen doses for everybody in between,” he said.
Chris Cherry, R.N., director of nursing for Huron County’s health department, said there have been four flu-related hospitalizations in her county in the last month.
“That’s a spike for us,” she said.
Cherry she has been scheduling additional flu clinics but said anyone who needs a shot should call.
“They can just call us and we will definitely work with their schedules to get them in,” Cherry said.
It’s very important for people to wash their hands carefully. That limits the chance of becoming sick by touching your face after you’ve gotten the virus on your hands, and also lessens the chance of spreading flu to other people.
“Soap and water, for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice, that’s getting rid of the germs,” she said.
When you sneeze or cough, do it in your elbow rather than your hand to lessen the chance of spreading the germs, Cherry said.
Need a flu shot?
Flu shots are commonly offered nowadays at local pharmacies but immunizations are also available from local health departments. Check their websites or phone them: Erie County Health Department, 419-626-5623, (toll free)(888) 399-6065; Ottawa County Health Department, 419-734-6800 or (toll free) 1-800-788-8803; Huron County, 419-668-1652 or (toll free) 1-888-694-2443; Sandusky County, 419-334-6377.