Flu cases rampant in Ohio: 5 things you need to know

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Flu cases are continuing to increase at area hospitals and are widespread around Ohio.

The virus each year leads to missed work and school, hospitalizations and even death.

RELATED: Dayton doctor says don’t play ‘viral roulette’ this flu season

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The start of flu season in Ohio changes each year. Last year, cases started to spike in December and peaked in February, with a total 8,661 hospitalizations within the state during the flu season.

As the virus continues to spread, here’s five things to know:

1. Flu season is “widespread” in Ohio and most of the U.S.

There are more than 2,100 flu cases so far in Ohio, with more than 400 cases in the nine county region around Dayton and Springfield, according to the Department of Health. About 11 percent of flu hospitalizations in Ohio have been in Montgomery County as of Dec. 30.

2. If you visit someone in the hospital, there will be restrictions

Through March, there are visitor restrictions at local adult, short-term acute care hospitals to minimize the spread of the flu. Under these restrictions, you can't visit someone at a hospital if you are sick with cold, flu or respiratory symptoms like coughing, fever, chills, headache, vomiting, sore throat and muscle aches or diarrhea. Also, children younger than 14 can't visit someone at a hospital.

LOCAL: Flu kills three in Ohio in two weeks

3. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is the time

Pharmacies, doctors offices and some workplaces have flu vaccines available. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to go into affect. And if you do get the flu despite the flu shot, you typically have less severe symptoms than if you didn’t have the flu shot.

RELATED: Australian outbreak hints at bad Ohio flu season

4. The flu can lead to death

The flu doesn't just lead to a day home sick. Every year people die from the flu. There have not been any pediatric flu deaths yet in Ohio this season as of Dec. 30, but children are among those particularly vulnerable to the virus. This year, the family of an active 21-year-old from Pennsylvania are warning about the dangers of the flu after the man died of complications from the flu.

5. If you do get the flu, seek treatment right away. 

If a person does get the flu, the FDA approved this month the first generic version of Tamiflu, making flu treatment cheaper and more accessible. Like the branded version, the generic is for treating patients within 48 hours of when flu-like symptoms appear, like fevers, chills, coughing, muscle aches, congestion, headaches and fatigue.

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