The flu bug is back, but he may not be biting as hard as in the past.
Statewide, it’s been “an unusual year,” said Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.
“It’s not as bad as it was two years ago, which was an especially bad year, but it isn’t as good as it was last year, so it’s somewhat higher than it has been typically over the past five years.
“What has been different about (this year) is typically we see influenza A early in the season, then influenza B later.
“We’ve seen exactly the opposite this year, which is the first time we’ve seen that since the 1990s.”
Kim Cupp, Fulton County Health Commissioner, said the first peak of the flu season occurred early in January.
Both Cupp and Hurst agree flu cases are trending up again statewide, so they may be on their way to a second peak.
Locally, Cupp said statistics about flu cases are based on a five-year database.
“We were slightly lower, but again, that kind of changes week by week. It’s hard until you’re at the end of the season to say, okay, looking at this graph we were worse, or were we better at this point in time.”
Cupp said so far this flu season there have been ten cases of people being hospitalized due to “flu-associated” reasons.
“It’s hard to say. Each of those individuals may have had other underlying conditions, but we just know that influenza was one of them.”
Jayson Selgo, superintendent of the Archbold School District, said in an email message to this newspaper, school absences at Archbold have been “pretty consistent with what we expect.”
Steve Switzer, Pettisville superintendent, said in a Tuesday, Jan. 28 email, “We are seeing elevated rates of absence and are monitoring the reasons. Influenza B seems to be the most preva- lent illness, although there are a variety represented, including flu and chicken pox. Most of this has started within the last several weeks.”
Mike Lane, Pettisville High School principal, said in a Monday, Feb. 3 email, “I see no substantial change on my end over the past week.
“I do believe our numbers of student absences in grades 7-12 have decreased through today.”
Not Too Late
Hurst said the influenza B virus hit children particularly hard.
“We had one death of a young person from the flu this year, which is, of course tragic,” he said.
“Flu is an equal-opportunity illness. It hits people of all ages, which is why we suggest that everybody over the age of six months receive a flu shot.
“I want to be really clear: because it has not been as severe so far is no reason to not get a flu shot, because people still do die of influenza, and they’ve died here in Ohio from influenza.
“Those are preventable deaths.”
It’s not too late to get a flu vaccination.
“Our flu season extends well into the spring, and just because you had the flu already doesn’t mean you can’t get it again, because there are different strains of the virus out there,” Hurst said.
“Anybody who has not been vaccinated this year should go ahead and get their flu shot.
“It’s widely available at doctor’s offices, departments of health and pharmacies.”