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Flu is Widespread -- 12.31.2014

Press Release - December 31, 2014

Contact: Jose Rodriguez, Columbus Public Health, 604-5025, [email protected]                  

Flu Widespread with Increased Hospitalizations in Columbus

Hospitalizations Nearly Five Times the Number for this Time Last Year

Influenza-like illnesses are growing and widespread in our area, causing increased hospitalizations.  In week ending December 20 alone, there were 91 hospitalizations – or nearly one third of the total number of hospitalizations for flu (274) since Aug. 25.  Additionally, the number of hospitalizations is already five times the number for this time last year.  

Early indicators this week also show increasing levels of flu activity, and public health officials are urging people to get a flu shot if they haven’t received one yet.

“While we know the virus has drifted and the shot doesn’t provide full protection against the most common H3N2 virus, the flu vaccine can provide cross protection and help lessen the severity and duration of symptoms if you get sick,” says Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long.  “In addition to a flu shot, you also can reduce your chances of getting the flu by washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home if you are sick,” she adds.

Additionally, Dr. Long urges anyone with flu symptoms to consult with their primary healthcare provider as soon as possible to get guidance and to see if treatment with Tamiflu is appropriate.  Antiviral medications work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms. With the season not even halfway, it’s certainly not too late to get vaccinated.

Columbus Public Health monitors flu activity from October through May each year to determine outbreaks, to track patterns of illnesses, and to measure the impact of illness in our community. Specifically, Columbus Public Health tracks: pneumonia and influenza deaths in Columbus; the number of students absent from Columbus City Schools; influenza-like illnesses reported from specific medical offices in Franklin County; influenza-like illness and respiratory illness at hospital emergency departments and pediatric urgent cares; selected laboratory data; over-the-counter medication sales; and, hospitalizations for influenza.

Columbus Public Health’s weekly Influenza Surveillance Report is available at:  The report is updated every Friday afternoon.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2014-15 flu season – which likely will last into spring – may be severe.  So far this flu season, influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant virus, and hospitalizations and deaths are typically higher when it is dominant.

For more information about the flu, visit