- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio health officials say 935 patients with the flu required hospital care last week, nearly doubling the statewide total of flu hospitalizations to more than 1,900 so far this season.

Flu season can stretch from autumn into spring, and this year it appears to be severe and may be peaking early.

The hospitalizations last week top the worst weeks of the previous two flu seasons, The Columbus Dispatch reported. There were 400 hospitalizations in one week last year and about 700 in the worst week the previous year.

The Cleveland area appeared hard hit last week, as more than one-third of the reported flu hospitalizations were in Cuyahoga County.

Experts worry this flu season will be rough because the dominant strain isn’t covered in this year’s vaccine.

“There’s something with the A strain that causes more severe symptoms in people and sends more people to the hospital,” Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato told the Dayton Daily News.

Young children and the elderly are considered especially at risk of flu complications. Of the hospitalizations so far, 177 have been children ages 4 or younger. More than 900 were adults age 65 or older.

Officials say people can help limit the spread of illness by frequently washing their hands, covering their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing, and staying home if they’re showing symptoms of illness and fever.

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