Ohio suffering rapid flu outbreak, Cuyahoga County one of hardest hit regions

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Flu activity in the state has risen to the highest level, "widespread," by the Ohio Department of Health.

Last year, flu activity did not hit the widespread level until mid-January.

So what does that mean for us?

"It means were in for a bad year, I think," said Dr. Amy Edwards of University Hospitals.

Dr. Edwards, however, is not surprised.

"It was a bad flu season in the southern hemisphere, so we were anticipating having a bad flu season, and it does seem to have started rather rapidly, a little bit early. We don't usually see it so bad so early."

According to data from the state health department, Stark, Cuyahoga and Summit Counties have been hit particularly hard as they are among the top four counties in the state with the highest number of flu cases requiring hospitalization.

In the southern hemisphere, the flu strain that was expected to be of the greatest concern mutated, leaving the flu vaccine mismatched.

It's too early to tell if that will happen here, according to Dr. Edwards, "Even when there is a mismatch, there is still some benefit, so while the vaccine may not prevent you from getting the disease it can help decrease the complication rate."

And that means, Dr. Edwards says, that the flu shot can protect the public from hospitalization or pneumonia.

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