The number of influenza- or pneumonia-related deaths in Medina County has doubled to 10 since December, according to Medina County Health Department data.
“Since Dec. 10, we have been well above average for hospitalizations for our county,” Health Commissioner Krista Wasowski said.
According to the health department’s latest Influenza Activity Report, the number of flu hospitalizations in the county increased from 27 the week of Jan. 7 to 33 hospitalizations the week of Jan. 14.
Statewide, there were 1,681 total influenza-related hospitalizations between Jan. 14-20, with Northeast Ohio coming in as the second most-affected region with 333 flu-related hospitalizations, according to a report released by the Ohio Department of Health. Medina County accounts for 1.6 percent of all influenza-associated hospitalizations statewide.
Dr. Matthew Vrobel, chief medical officer of Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, said higher death rates are not considered unusual because more people are being diagnosed with the flu.
“I think that is just standard for the number of cases,” Vrobel said. “If you see more cases of flu, you are going to see more mortality cases from flu.”
He said individuals are encouraged to get a flu shot if they haven’t already.
Wasowski said children and senior citizens have been the groups most impacted by the flu. Most cases are caused by H3N2 influenza, an aggressive strain, data show.
“More than half of our emergency room visits that are flu related have been children under 17, (and) close to 70 percent of the hospitalizations that we have seen are for residents over the age of 65,” she said.
Wasowski said a dip in flu-related emergency room visits during mid-January had health officials thinking that perhaps the flu season had peaked, but then the numbers went right back up.
A Jan. 10 Ohio Department of Health report said the flu season, statewide and nationally, is looking similar to the 2014-15 flu season, which “at the time was the most severe flu season in recent years.”
Wasowski said that simply washing your hands and staying away from infected people are some of the best ways to prevent coming down with the flu.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.