CLEVELAND, Ohio - News 5 has a new health warning for you. The Ohio Department of Health and the CDC are reporting that the flu virus is spreading faster than usual, and this year's flu season could be severe.
According to the health department, 35 people have been hospitalized across Ohio. While the flu hits many people every year, the virus is coming about a month earlier than expected this year.
This year's flu vaccine was also found to have been only 10 percent effective on one strain of the flu, called H3N2 in Australia.
Dr. Steven Gordon with the Cleveland Clinic said he is not sure yet, if the results in Australia are an indicator of what’s to come in the U.S.
“Each season, there might be variations on how much that effectiveness is, based on a multitude of factors, but in 2017 to 2018 season in the U.S. at this point, we don't have any great data to show that it is not effective,” said Dr. Gordon, Cleveland Clinic Department of Infectious Diseases. “Again, that news report came out of Australia, which may or may not predict in this year's flu season in the United States.
Four states already have widespread cases, including Louisiana, Oklahoma, Georgia and Massachusetts.
Dr. Gordon said so far, the Cleveland Clinic Health System has already seen about two dozen cases of the flu, which is the sporadic category, but is not yet considered widespread.
For now, healthcare professionals are still recommending folks get the flu shot. Even if the shots may not be 100 percent effective, they can still make flu symptoms less severe.
Dr. Gordon said the vaccine was about 60 to 70 percent effective last year. He also added that an improved, universal vaccine is in the works.
“We're not there yet, but there's a lot of research being done for that 'holy grail' of the universal flu vaccine,” he said.
If you are suffering from a mild case of the flu, many hospital systems including the Cleveland Clinic have apps and virtual services to help patients online.
Here’s the info on Cleveland Clinic’s Express Care Online. You can download the app on any device, which allows patients to get virtual care from a doctor online. They can also get medical advice from the comfort of their own home.