Flu season has arrived early in central Ohio.
There were 45 hospitalizations between Aug. 25 and Nov. 24 – nine times as many cases during that some time period last year, officials with Columbus Public Health said.
“Not only is there an increase in hospitalizations, we’re also seeing more ER visits and pediatric urgent care visits,” said Mysheika Williams Roberts, medical director and assistant health commissioner the city’s health agency. “It’s a huge increase that we’re seeing this early and it’s both kids and adults.”
Roberts is strongly encouraging residents get a flu vaccine, and those who feel the onset of symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Columbus Public Health hasn’t seen this early of a spike since 2004, which could be part of a larger pattern nationwide.
“Usually that has meant, at least in the past, that the flu virus is strong and active,” said Roberts, adding that the flu season usually peaks after the holidays.
Health officials are encouraging people to follow the usual precautions. Frequently wash your hands. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Stay home if you’re sick, as that can reduce the chance the infection will be spread to one or two additional people, Roberts said.
For more on this story, see the Dec. 13 editions of ThisWeek Community News.