LIMA — The only thing that’s predictable about the flu is that it’s unpredictable.
And this week proves to be no different after the Ohio Department of Health released a report indicating a drop in flu rates between Jan. 4 and 10. Though the illness’ rates are still above those of years past, the number of reported flu-related in- and out-patient cases, as well as emergency visits, have decreased in the state compared to previous weeks this season.
Nationally, specialists’ findings also indicated a decrease despite the year’s elevated number of influenza cases compared to years past, according to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Allen County’s Department of Health, on the other hand, is finding it difficult to make a determination regarding flu trends so far this year as a result of the fluctuating numbers in reported flu hospitalizations, said Kim Reiman, the department’s director of health education.
According to the department’s previous reports beginning the week of Dec. 1, 13 cases were reported, 16 were reported the week of Dec. 8, 23 the week of Dec. 15, 19 the week of Dec. 22, and 23 the week of Dec. 29. In comparison, the months of November and October combined only had nine flu hospitalizations reported to the health department.
More recently, the week of Jan. 4 had 42 reported cases, but the following week had a dramatic decrease in reported flu hospitalizations for the county, having only 14 cases recorded for the week of Jan. 14.
“There was a dramatic drop,” Reiman said. “But some [in the week of Jan. 4] could’ve been reported after the holidays, or there could’ve been an onslaught of cases after the holidays.”
Still, she said its too early to tell if the decrease in county reported flu hospitalizations during the previous week means the worst of the season has passed.
In the meantime, the director said people should continue to take precautions to prevent contracting the flu, including getting the influenza immunization, hand washing and staying home when sick.
“It’s something we need to continue to watch,” Reiman said. “We’ll see how this flu season plays out.”