Flu hospitalizations in Ohio spike again; 4 deaths reported

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 11, 2015

COLUMBUS (AP) — Four people have died from the flu this season as hospitalizations for the illness continue to rise, the Ohio Health Department said Friday.

Data released Friday shows 1,598 flu-related hospitalizations from Dec. 28 through Jan. 4. That’s a 55 percent jump from a week earlier and brings the season total to 4,487.

It’s also a huge increase from the same week a year ago, when the department reported just 833 flu hospitalizations. The figures were a little higher in 2012, with 1,922 hospitalizations, but still far below the current figures.

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Ohio’s east-central region had the most hospitalizations last week with 461, followed by 289 in the southwest and 279 in the northeast.

Cuyahoga County, the state’s most populous county, accounts for more than one in five of every flu hospitalization this season with 1,028, followed by Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, with 427, and Franklin County, home to Columbus, with 395.

The state reported two new flu deaths: a 4-month-old boy in Cincinnati and a 2-year-old girl in Allen County. Those followed the death of a 16-year-old boy in Licking County last month and a 15-year-old girl in Ironton in southern Ohio in November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this year’s vaccine may not protect against the dominant flu strain as well.

The state says getting the vaccine is still important, especially for the chronically ill, the elderly and pregnant women.

Several hospitals around Ohio have asked people with flu symptoms to stay away to avoid hurting patients and staff.