The number of influenza related hospitalizations in Ohio have skyrocketed this year to date as compared to the 4-year-average for the Buckeye state (see chart below).
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 1,919 such hospitalizations have been reported thus far during the 2014-15 flu season. In fact, during the previous week alone (Dec. 14-20), Ohio had 935 new confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations – a dramatic increase over the previous week’s 529 new hospitalizations.
Influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant virus strain this flu season.
During the same period in 2013, Ohio saw 331 flu-related hospitalizations (H3N2 was not the predominant strain).
As a note of comparison, Ohio had 851 flu hospitalizations through Week 51 of the 2012-13 flu season when H3N2 was also predominant. The number of such hospitalizations for that entire flu season exceeded 5,000.
Cuyahoga County has been hit the hardest concerning flu hospitalizations, accounting for a third of all cases.
“Influenza vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu, except for infants younger
than 6 month old who aren’t eligible to receive it,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, medical director of the Ohio
Department of Health (ODH).
The 2014-2015 flu season, which likely will continue into next spring, may be severe according to the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant virus strain this year, and hospitalizations and deaths are higher when it is dominant.
“Many people have probably heard about this year’s flu vaccine not being as effective because of
mutations in some influenza viruses,” said Dr. DiOrio. “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that it’s still
very important to get vaccinated. The vaccine provides some protection against mutated viruses and
maximum protection against other circulating influenza strains for which the vaccine remains well matched.”
Ohio is one of the 29 states reporting “widespread influenza activity”, according to the CDC.