Seasonal Flu Outbreaks Widespread

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CLEVELAND – More than two-dozen states are reporting flu outbreaks at the severe level, but according to the Ohio Department of Health, the situation is only widespread. That means outbreaks have been reported in at least half the state.

“For most patients who come to us with influenza, if they're not in a high-risk group, what we're gonna tell them is stay home, get lots of rest, take Tylenol,” said Dr. Charles Emerman from MetroHealth Medical Center. According to Dr. Emerman, while the situation isn’t severe in Ohio, they are seeing an increase in patients seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms.

Jean Pandoli from Lakewood is still recovering after several days of feeling sick. “[Like] a wet rag, a wet rag,” said Pandoli.

If you’re hoping to avoid the flu this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone get the flu vaccine. 

“I had stopped getting it previous years - my mom said, 'you better get the flu shot' - the first time I got it, I got real sick,” said Simone Woodberry from Cleveland.

But according to the government, the shot protects against the most common viruses of the flu. It’s recommended for everyone six-months and older and all ‘high risk’ individuals. 

Dr. Emerman reminds people that it’s not too late since flu season is not over.  According to the doctor, it’s spread by respiratory droplets that can be picked-up on almost any surface.

“You go to open a door and the person right before you just coughed on that door, so when you touch a surface that has had a lot of use, you want to disinfect your hands,” said Dr. Emerman. “The virus is transmitted by you touching flu virus and then touching your mouth, your nose or your eyes, so, if you're someplace where you just had to turn a door handle and you can't wash your hands right away, just stay away from your face.”

According to the CDC, always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.  Also, wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Symptoms of the flu include a fever, cough and sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

If you do get sick, doctors recommend you don’t rush back to work. 

“I told my boss on Monday, I said I'll be in the next day and she said 'Oh no, stay away until you're sure you feel better' so you just, literally, are fatigued from it,” said Pandoli.

The financial impact of the flu on U.S. employers could be in the billions this year, according to some estimates.  Most of the losses will be due to widespread sick calls and lost productivity.

For more information, visit the CDC flu prevention webpage here

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