Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:06PM - 61 Views

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LIMA — If you thought the mild weather so far this winter would keep the flu at bay, think again.The Allen County Health Department reported 16 influenza-related hospitalizations in January. That’s not a high number, but could be a sign of things to come.“No it’s not real high, but we’re seeing more,” said Becky Dershem, director of nursing for the health department.“If you look at a 10-year trend, it’s kind of January-February through about April. We’re right on track to go into it,” she said. Regionally, Ohio and Indiana have sporadic reports of influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michigan and Kentucky have local outbreaks. As of Feb. 4, only California was reporting widespread flu cases.Once you have the flu, antibiotics won’t help, but it’s not too late to take preventative action.“It’s not too late to get the vaccine,” Dershem said.She said the flu vaccine this year covers A and B strains of the flu, the two types reported locally.“We know what influenza virus strains are going to be the problem, and that’s what they put in the vaccine each year,” she said.The mild winter so far may not translate into fewer cases of the flu. It’s one of many factors. “Weather plays a role. Holidays play a role. Whenever people cluster together,” Dershem said.Influenza is fever, general malaise and lots of respiratory issues, coughing and feeling miserable. If you have those symptoms get lots of fluids, plenty of rest and stay home. “If you are sick, don’t go to school or work,” Dershem said.If you’re not sick, Dershem recommends three steps to stay that way.“Stay away from people who come to work that are sick. Get your flu shot, and wash your hands,” she said.

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