Flu hospitalizations rise across the Valley - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Flu hospitalizations rise across the Valley

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WARREN, Ohio -

From visits to local emergency rooms to packed doctor offices, the flu is aggressive in Ohio.

While Mahoning County health officials say the number of cases is in line with last year, Trumbull County is seeing a surge, particularly with its elderly population.

"I'm seeing more of the elderly. Maybe they have chronic lung disease, diabetes," said Randee Shoenberger, R.N. epidemiologist with the Trumbull County Combined Health District.

Trumbull County is leading the pack with the most hospitalizations in the region so far this season with 372 and counting. Mahoning County has counted 189 hospitalizations, Columbiana is reporting 37 and in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, officials have recorded 127 cases from either hospitalizations, doctor offices visits or trips to the emergency room.

If 2018's flu season is anything like last year, Shoenberger says we could have several more weeks to go.

"We saw it go from January, February, March and then it started to filter down in April, so we're just still ramping up," Shoenberger said.

Health professionals from each county across the Valley all stress the same preventative measure to keep the flu away; wash your hands, stay home if you're sick and get the flu vaccine.

"The strain that is in the flu shot is what is circulating in the community," said Patricia Sweeney, Commissioner of the Mahoning County District Board of Health. 

"It mitigates, it changes, it drifts as it goes around the globe. So the proteins might not be exactly the same, but it still is the H3N2 virus," said Sweeney. 

Parents are among those growing concerned.

So far, the virus is to blame for three pediatric deaths in Ohio.

Across the country, 37 children have died compared to eight deaths last year.

Health officials warn we're only near or at the peak of the flu season.

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