Flu taking toll in Portage County

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

This year's flu season has hit early and strong in Portage County.

Robinson Memorial Hospital admitted 30 cases since Oct. 5, said Andrea Pettit, spokesperson for the hospital. RMH saw the first out-patient case on Sept. 20 and saw 77 out-patient cases up to Thursday.

It is the earliest flu season in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to Christmas, 16 states and New York City were reporting high influenza-like illness as of the first of the year, according to the CDC. A total of 31 states were reporting widespread geographic influenza activity, up from 29 states the previous week.

During its series of vaccination clinics this fall, the Portage County Health Department vaccinated 455 children and 600 adults, said Becky Lehman, department spokesperson.

Adults are still able to get the vaccine without appointments from 8 a.m. to noon during the childhood immunization clinics every Wednesday at its first floor clinic, next to the Women, Infants and Children office in the Portage County Administration Building, 449 S. Meridian St. in Ravenna.

Adults can also make appointments to get the vaccine from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays by calling the health department's nursing clinic at 330-298-4490.

RMH is offering the flu vaccine for people 14 years and older without health insurance through its Working Partners program. The shots are available for $22, cash or check, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays without an appointment. Clients ages 14 to 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Working Partners is located to the right of the hospital's main lobby entrance.

The flu vaccine is also widely available at pharmacies and drug stores and though doctors' offices.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu comes on suddenly, unlike a common cold.People who have the flu often feel some or all of the following symptoms:

Fever or feeling feverish or having chills (although not everyone will have a fever);

Cough;

Sore throat;

Runny or stuffy nose;

Muscle or body aches;

Headaches;

Fatigue.

Some people, particularly children, may have vomiting and diarrhea.

While most people will recover in a few days to a couple weeks, some people may develop complications, such as pneumonia.

People susceptible to serious complications include older adults (over 65); people with chronic asthma, diabetes or heart disease; pregnant women, and young children.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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