Sickness spike: Flu widespread across Ohio for first time this season

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Wash your hands and cover your cough, the flu is now widespread throughout Ohio for the first time this flu season.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of people going to the hospital due to the flu is rising. The first week of January, there were 287 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio; that's compared to 157 the week before.

The flu isn't just hitting in the Buckeye State, either; according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is on the rise across the country and the trend is expected to continue for at least several more weeks.

Flu season in Ohio usually lasts from October to May, with hospitalizations peaking between December and February.

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

The best way to prevent the flu? “Influenza vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu, except for infants younger than 6-month old who aren’t eligible to receive it,” said Sietske de Fijter, chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases and state epidemiologist for the Ohio Department of Health. "Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits and missed work and school.” Flu vaccination is available at most healthcare providers’ offices, local health departments and retail pharmacies.

**Read more about the flu shot, here**

You probably guessed the other ways to help you prevent getting sick: Wash your hands; use hand sanitizer; cover your cough.

**Read more on flu prevention, here**