Widespread flu strikes Ohio early in season - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Widespread flu strikes Ohio early in season

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Health experts are calling it the earliest and worst outbreak of the deadly flu virus in a decade. Doctors confirm 41 states have seen widespread flu cases. 18 children died from the virus and it's just the beginning of this year's flu season. Tonight our local health department is speaking out addressing your concerns.

Health experts say the flu season doesn't begin until after the holidays, but this year's season started back October. They say it's not too late to get a flu shot and they have plenty of vaccine.

Coughing and sneezing and especially fever are just a few of the symptoms you'll feel when you get the flu.

"Did you have a flu shot at all this year?" asked reporter Alexis Means. "No I've never had one," said Joanna Waggamon

Waggamon doesn't plan get one. Local health departments tell 13abc they've seen a significant spike in the number of cases with flu like symptoms.  Defiance County has logged 251 reports of cases with flu like symptoms, Fulton County 175, Williams County 130 and Ottawa 52 just to name a few.

"We have noticed that in Lucas county as well I think we were the last area in Ohio to experience the increase rates of influenza," said Epidemiologist Patti Fraker.

Health experts at the Lucas county health department say since September of last year they've seen the numbers go up each week.

"Carrying sanItizer is a good preventative method and we also encourage people to wash their hands and that's such a basic prevention measure but it is so important. At this time we want to be as prepared as we can and we want the public to be as protected as they can," said Fraker.

Fraker says people who come down with the flu can get pretty sick that's why they encourage you to stay informed so you can stay healthy.

"Its bad for others but it really doesn't bother me because if I get sick I get sick," said Waggamon.

Health experts say you should try to keep you hands away from you face and wash them often.

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