ER doctor: Wouldn't be surprised if this flu season goes down as worst in decades

Nebraska is experiencing a high activity level in flu-like illness so far this season.
Nebraska is experiencing a high activity level in flu-like illness so far this season.(WOWT)
Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 7:22 PM EST
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A local ER doctor who says its been an unusual flu season so far, with more people testing positive for influenza than normal. It may be because of the shifting weather and temperatures in Ohio.

You might have a fever or maybe get the chills. Sometimes it's nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

"There's a belt of influenza that goes through the country and we're right smack in the middle of it and short of going somewhere else, you're going to get it every single year," said Toledo Hospital ER Doctor Robert Wood.

Dr. Wood says flu season is in full swing in Ohio and the onset is happening earlier than he expected.

"It kind of starts to peak January, February, into March and we've already started to see a ton. We saw a ton of people that are influenza positive in November. The entire month of December was really crazy," said Dr. Wood.

Young children and older adults are at the highest risk. No one locally has died from influenza, but it can be a serious diagnosis. Dr. Wood says it can make other chronic illnesses worse.

Here are some figures from the Lucas County Health Department about this season:

• 70 people have been hospitalized due to flu symptoms

• 37% of those cases are pediatric

• 20% are infants ages two and under

• 77% of those hospitalizations are from "Influenza B" which health officials say is unusual

"It's not normal. Certainly the variations in the weather like that don't help either," said Dr. Wood.

The health department says at this time during the past flu seasons, here's how the number of cases compare:

• 2018-2019: 28

• 2017-2018: 97

• 2016-2017: 13

"I wouldn't be surprised when springtime rolls around if we're all hearing that it's the worst flu season we've had in about a decade," said Dr. Wood.

While there is no cure Dr. Wood says rest, fluids, and Motrin usually does the trick. Most of the time it's best to just let the virus run its course.

Here's what you can do to protect yourself:

• Wash your hands

• Don't share drinks, food or toys

• Avoid sick people as best as you can

• Wear a mask if needed

Officials recommend you get a flu shot. The vaccine can be found at family doctor offices and pharmacies.

Flu season is expected to last until May.