Flu season on target to break records

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In the first week of January, there were 1,750 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in OH compared to 925 the week before.

There have been 3,854 total flu-associated hospitalizations in OH since flu season began last October, according to ODH. During that season, influenza A H3N2 viruses dominated nationally.

Birmingham area hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms, according to the Jefferson County Department of Health.

But, from December 17 to 30, the report said all indicators of influenza activity are "within the range of expected levels for this time of year".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports widespread flu activity in 46 states, and officials predict the season could be as severe as 2014-15.

If you experience flu-like symptoms, stay home 24-48 hours after symptoms resolve, unless you are seeking medical care.

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Rodriguez said that even if the vaccine is weak this year, vaccinating is still the most important thing county residents can do to avoid getting sick and mitigate the illness if they do get sick.

Healthy lifestyle habits can also protect you from seasonal illness. In Dayton Children's emergency department last week, there were 220 positive tests for the flu, which was 30 percent of those tested.

At the end of its flu season in mid-August, Australia had more than 93,000 laboratory-confirmed cases - nearly 2.5 times the number of infections and double the number of hospitalizations and deaths compared to the previous year.

And when it comes to protecting your children, the Charlotte County School Board Liaison, Mike Riley, says schools are taking every step possible to make sure kids are safe. The vaccine's effectiveness against those strains has been found to be closer to 50 to 60 percent, he said.

Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, and the vaccination is available at physicians' offices and local clinics, at many local pharmacies, and through the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) immunization program.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, cough, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and muscle aches. Antiviral drugs work best when administered within two days of getting sick.

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