With worst flu season in a decade, doctors urging precautions

Flu widespread in Ohio and US, doctors urging people to get flu shot

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Many people across the country—and plenty right here in the Tri-State—are falling ill to the flu. Medical experts says it’s the worst they’ve seen it in a decade.

“It’s been a bad year for the flu all over the country. It started more in the southern states but it’s finally here in Ohio and the number of cases are increasing dramatically,” Stephen Blatt, MD, TriHealth Medical Director for Infectious Diseases told FOX19 NOW.

Blatt says this could be one of the worst years that we’ve seen in the past 10 to 15 years.

“(It’s) particularly bad with children this year because Influenza B started the flu season this year,” he explained. "That’s the one that attacks children preferentially over adults.”

On Thursday, the elementary school Summit Academy in Bond Hill sent a notice to parents saying that the school will be closed on Friday due to staff and student illness.

Blatt says that’s a step in preventing a bigger outbreak.

“The children can bring it home to the family, and then the whole family ends up getting influenza," he said.

So far this flu season, the CDC reports that across the U.S., 6.4 million have been sickened with the flu, 55,000 have been hospitalized and 2,900 have died, including 27 children.

Blatt says the best protection is the flu shot.

“The flu vaccine looks like it’s a pretty good match to the flu that’s circulating so far, but we’ll have to learn more about that as the flu season progresses,” Blatt explained. “Sometimes the flu virus changes during the season, and the vaccine becomes more or less effective, and we’re waiting to see that data now.”

TriHealth has walk-in flu shot clinics. Most insurance companies will cover the cost.

The public health department is also offering free flu shots.

In addition to the flu shot, doctors also suggest practicing good hygiene, like washing your hands often and covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.

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