LIMA — Flu cases have spiked in the area, according to Jeanetta Francy, epidemiologist at the Allen County Health Department — and it’s not too late to get the flu shot.
Allen County is up to 50 cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations so far for the month of February. In January, there were 26 cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations. The Allen County Health Department receives data only when the ill person is hospitalized.
St. Rita’s Medical Center saw the increase in flu cases and imposed a visitor restriction to the hospital.
“We are seeing quite an uptick of flu and flu-like illnesses. We have already exceeded the numbers that we had all of last year just in 2017 alone,” said Dr. Kevin Casey, chief clinical officer at St. Rita’s Medical Center.
Blanchard Valley Health System in Findlay has seen an increase in influenza-associated hospitalizations as well.
“Flu has peaks and valleys. This year we started seeing more cases the middle of January and we’re still continuing to see high elevations of flu,” said Colleen Abrams, infection preventionist at Blanchard Valley Health System.
Lima Memorial Health System echoes the increase in the illness as well.
“We are continuing to have a large volume of flu cases. Influenza A is what we’re seeing the most of,” said Pam Lawrence, infection preventionist at Lima Memorial Health System.
In the state so far this season, four children have died. Children are at risk with this illness. Abrams said about half the cases in Findlay are younger than 12.
Doctor’s offices can test for Influenza A and B with a mouth swab. If the test comes back positive, Tamiflu can be given — if the patient has only had symptoms two or three days. Past that, it’s not effective, Francy said.
There is no quick fix.
“As long as you are able to drink and you are drinking enough, then there’s not a whole lot that can be done. It lasts for a week or two, but the bad part lasts only three or four days and it’s one of those things that most people just have to get through,” Casey said.
If someone does have the flu, stay home. Try over-the-counter remedies to make yourself more comfortable, drink a lot of water, get a lot of rest, cover your cough, and wash your hands frequently.
Consider getting a flu shot, as Francy said there is still plenty available. It’s usually covered by insurance. Something to consider: Flu season continues through May.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-9511.