CINCINNATI - As spring blooms, you might think it's safe to stop worrying about the flu, but Northern Kentucky officials say the severity of recent flu cases has worsened.
Officials with the Northern Kentucky Health Department said that since March, three people have died and more people were hospitalized for the flu.
According to a department release, one in four of the cases reported in the week ending last Saturday required hospitalization. Officials said that is much higher than normal.
"Fighting the flu puts a strain on the body," District Director of Health Dr. Lynne Saddler said. "Most healthy people are able to handle that strain, but for someone who is elderly or has an underlying medical condition, the flu can lead to serious -- and sometimes fatal -- complications. Many people who die from flu get very ill, very quickly."
The department said five flu deaths have been reported so far this year. The three recent deaths happened in Campbell and Boone counties. All three victims had other medical complications besides the flu.
Officials said flu deaths are only reported voluntarily, meaning that it is possible more adults in Northern Kentucky have died from the flu this year.
Workers said children who die from the flu are required to be reported and none have so far this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that nationwide, 105 children have died from flu through March 16.
In Northern Kentucky, a total of 3,132 flu cases were reported for the 2012-2013 season. Officials said 105 of those cases happened in the week ending last Saturday.
"People who have another health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma, and develop symptoms of the flu should contact a health care provider right away. It's important for flu to be monitored closely in these individuals," said Saddler.
People are urged to wash their hands often, avoid touching the face and hands and to stay home if ill to stop the spread of the flu.