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16 flu deaths in Cuyahoga County so far this season, number expected to rise

Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 19:19:05-05

Just this week, five more people from Cuyahoga County died from flu-related illnesses. That brings the death toll to 16 people for this flu season - and it's not over yet.

"We are definitely seeing more flu than we normally see," said Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, MetroHealth's medical director for infection prevention. 

Here's how this season compares to those in years past, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health: 

2017/2018 flu season: 16 deaths (to date) 

2016/2017 flu season: 21 deaths 

2015-2016 flu season: 10 deaths

2014-2015 flu season: 52 deaths 

2013-2014 flu season: 18 deaths 

"It’s probably going to be higher than what we’ve seen the last few years. I think its hard to come up with an exact number," said Dr. Hanrahan. 

Dr. Hanrahan says although there is lots of paranoia about the current flu season, it's important not to rush to the emergency room unless you have serious symptoms. If you go to the hospital prematurely, you could catch the actual flu while surrounded by sick people in the waiting room. 

"If people are having really severe headaches, something that is not usual for them, that would be one sign," Dr. Hanrahan said. "If people are vomiting and unable to keep down fluids, if they have shortness of breathe or chest pain, those are things that would make you have to go and see a healthcare provider." 

Dr. Hanrahan says she's not sure why the flu is so bad this year, but says this particular strain is very aggressive.