Reported increases in flu-like illnesses at doctors’ offices and clinics across the county have medical personnel urging people to get their flu shots.
There have already been four reported flu-related deaths in the county this flu season, with reporting dating back to the fall.
According to the Medina County Health Department, which closely monitors flu activity in the county, deaths are counted as influenza or pneumonia deaths if the illnesses are listed as the immediate or underlying cause on the death certificate.
In a report that came out on Friday — the most up-to-date information available — there were 80 visits to local emergency rooms for flu-like illnesses during the week of Dec. 23.
That is up from 50 visits the week prior.
Since the beginning of the flu season, 395 people have visited local hospitals with flu-like illnesses. There have been 12 hospitalizations this season.
The majority of the visits were for ill children under the age of 17.
However, of those who went to the emergency room, it was adults 45 and older who were more likely to require hospitalization.
The report did not offer details on the ages of those who have died in association with the flu this season.
Prevention is the best step to take, said medical professionals.
It’s not too late for a flu vaccine, said Dr. Neha Vyas, a physician in the department of Family Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
“First and foremost you should get your flu vaccine,” Vyas said Monday. “Secondly, if you haven’t been to the doctor in a while it might be a good idea to go get a physical and see if there are any other vaccines or any other preventative health measures you might need.”
The flu — that fever- and chills- causing virus that can quickly knock you out — got a slow start in the fall, but the peak of flu season is hitting as that the weather has turned a little colder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is now widespread in 24 states.
Influenza and other viruses are the culprits behind why people are missing school and taking personal time off of work.
“We see a lot of everything and the good majority of illnesses that we see are viruses and that’s because, in the winter
time, that’s what we predominantly get,” Vyas said. “Different viruses can cause upper respiratory infections and also viruses that can cause the stomach illnesses.”
Vyas said the flu is very contagious and urges symptomatic people to stay home from work or school during the worst of the illness. If that isn’t possible, make sure to cover your mouth when coughing and to wash your hands frequently, just to name a few measures to prevent the spread of germs, she said.
Flu shots are offered at the Medina County Health Department’s health center, located at 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina Township.