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Milder flu season so far

Zoe Greszler • Dec 11, 2018 at 9:00 AM

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated a milder flu season, something that seems to be true locally as the health department reports no flu-related hospitalizations yet.

Huron County Public Health (HCPH) epidemiologist Sydney Cmar said the county is doing pretty well when it comes to flu numbers. She said there have been no schools that have met the threshold for school absentees this flu season and there have been no flu hospitalizations so far.

Erie County has reported two influenza-associated hospitalizations thus far, according to the CDC’s influenza tracker.

The CDC tracker indicated Ohio, as with most states, is seeing only minimal flu activity and what activity the state is seeing is described as being “local activity.” The most frequently identified influenza virus type reported throughout the nation by public health laboratories was influenza A (H1N1).

While the local numbers are good, across the state as a whole, reported cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations are above the seasonal threshold. There were 44 flu-associated hospitalizations reported the first week of December, which follows a four-week trend of increasing numbers. 

The seasonal threshold is 25 cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations and historical data indicates that “once the weekly count exceeds 25 cases, the number of weekly cases thereafter will likely not decrease until after the peak of influenza activity for the season,” the CDC reported. 

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Dr. Richard Webby warns it is still very early and last year’s deadly season was also “unremarkable” at this time, hitting hard later in the season, which lasted longer than normal. 

“At this point the number of infections are low and dominated by the H1N1 virus, a different virus than the one which caused significant problems last season,” said Webby, one of a select group of scientists responsible for determining the composition of flu vaccines each year.

“However, this latest data cannot be mistaken for an all-clear signal to let our guard down. It is critical the public understands last year’s deadly flu season also showed unremarkable infection rates during this same time period. Peak season has not yet happened and we continue to strongly encourage all Americans to receive the flu vaccine as soon as possible.”

With the holidays coming up, the HCPH recommends taking extra precautions to keep flu-free, including:

• Everyone 6 months and older should get their flu shot. This is one of the best ways to help protect yourself and your family against the flu.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

• Wash your hands to prevent spreading germs to others.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with flu viruses.

• If you have the flu, we encourage you to stay home from holiday events. You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

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