The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

January 10, 2014

Flu cases on the rise in Ashtabula County

Got the flu? You are not the only one.

A local hospital has seen a big influx of people coming into the emergency room with flu-like symptoms.

Ashtabula County Medical Center Infection Control Practitioner, Registered Nurse Cindy Callahan, said she has seen 40 to 50 older patients with H1N1 flu.

“We may be looking at a close repeat of 2009 when H1N1 first came on board,” she said. “These patients not only have the flu, but they also have complications such as pneumonia.”

In a health notice sent to medical professionals, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that although much of the country has seen a slow start to flu season, it is quickly spreading.

According to the CDC, those  at   greatest   risk   of

H1N1 are children and middle-aged adults.

ACMC pediatrician, Jude Cauwenbergh, said he and his colleagues at The Ashtabula Clinic are seeing more children come in with flu-like symptoms.

Those symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, cough, exhaustion and nausea or vomiting.

His advice for parents: “If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot for your child, get it now.”

Callahan echoed that statement for adults.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated for the flu. If you are six months or older, you should get vaccinated,” she said. “Likewise, anyone who is considered high-risk — if you are pregnant, have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or a lung-related issue, or if you help provide care for an elderly relative or friend.”

Since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully-effective, get the flu shot sooner rather than later, Callahan said.

Becky Robinson, disease surveillance epidemic specialist for the Ashtabula County Health Department, agreed.

“It’s not too late,” she said, noting the end of January and the beginning of February is the most active week for the flu.

The CDC says the current flu vaccine contains strains of H1N1 to protect against this specific virus.

While flu-like symptoms are on the rise in Ashtabula County, people also are  suffering from colds and stomach viruses. These may have similar symptoms to the flu, but differ in intensity and duration.

Cauwenbergh said it’s best to see your doctor right away.

“If we can start an anti-viral medication within 48 hours, we can lessen the symptoms,” he said. “As soon as you see signs of flu-like symptoms, come see us.”

The anti-viral medication stops its growth throughout the body, thereby lessening the symptoms, and shortening the time it takes your body to fight off the virus.

Ashtabula County Health Department in Jefferson administers flu shots 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

• Trivalent "Regular Vaccine"- $20 for adults, $ 5.00 for children (coverage for three strains of flu vaccine);

• High Dose - Four times the antigen for Adults 65 and older- $40;

• Intradermal - Small micro needle, $30 for ages 18-64, and

• Quadrivalent vaccine provides coverage for two strains of A and two strains of B flu virus.

Available as injectable and as nasal mist- $25 for each.

Medicare, Medicaid and some insurances can be billed. For more information, call 440-576-6010.

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