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‘Tis the season – for sniffling, sneezing and congestion.
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The 2013-2014 flu season, already a couple months old, has health officials uneasy as they review the previous year’s recording-breaking numbers.
Nationwide, the 2012-2013 flu season peaked early, and was the most severe since the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
At the height of the 2012 season – late December 2012 – the percentage of flu-related outpatient cases was the highest since 1997.
Hospitalization rates for seniors (65 years or older) with the flu were the highest since health officials began collecting data in 2005 – 2 ½ times the highest rate previously reported for that age group.
Federal and state data show the 2012-2013 flu season in Ohio and neighboring Indiana followed the national pattern – peaking about this time last year and staying at a “high risk” level for nearly a month.
Indiana suffered through the first three weeks of the New Year with flu risks at level 9 or 10 – the highest risk levels set by federal health officials. Ohio reached a level-9 risk during the first week of January.
During that month-long period, at least 580 people were hospitalized each week with flu-related illnesses in Ohio, with 695 reportedly admitted during the first week of January.
Kentucky’s flu season peaked in late January, and was less severe than its northern neighbors.
The first interactive chart tracks last year’s flu season in the Tri-State area through weekly “risk levels” set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The levels reflect flu-related cases reported by schools, hospitals and other outpatient facilities in a state. Levels 1-3 indicate a “minimal” risk; 4-5 a “low” risk; 6-7 a “moderate” risk, and 8-10 a “high” risk. A “0” level risk indicates insufficient data.
The next chart shows persons hospitalized for flu-related illnesses in Ohio during the last flu season. Roll over any line on the charts to see how risks and hospitalizations changed.
View the interactive chart of last year's flu season View the interactive chart of persons hospitalized