Respiratory diseases are on the rise in Ohio

Respiratory diseases are on the rise in Ohio

CINCINNATI — Ohio is seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses ahead of the holidays.

Cases of COVID-19, RSV and influenza are on the rise across the state, the Ohio Department of Health said in an update Monday.

With holiday gatherings approaching, health experts say there are some things people can do to limit the spread of the disease and keep their families healthy.

“The best tool you have to protect someone from serious illness that leads to hospitalization and death is the vaccine,” said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, vice president of clinical affairs at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital and OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital.

Last week, more than 14,000 coronavirus cases were reported in Ohio, with the Buckeye State averaging more than 450 COVID-19 hospitalizations per week. This compares to 600 per week at this time last year.

“We are grateful that our hospitals are not experiencing the admission rates and numbers of severe cases that have challenged our health care delivery system in recent years,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, the state will likely see more hospitalizations, Vanderhoff said.

“What I find concerning is the low number of Ohioans who have received the updated COVID vaccine that became available in September,” Vanderhoff said.

Only about 9% of Ohioans have gotten the updated coronavirus dose.

Last month, Warren County also reported an outbreak of pneumonia in children. ODH provided an update on the cause of the outbreak.

“As we have been in contact with health officials there, it appears that the outbreak was caused by a variety of common organisms including Mycoplasma,” Vanderhoff said. “We are also pleased to hear that the number of new cases reported in Warren County has slowed recently.”

Pneumonia is nothing new, but what doctors say has changed is the ability to test for it.

“We have tests available,” Gastaldo said. “In the past, when I thought of a patient with mycoplasma pneumonia, we would have to do a blood test and it would take days to repeat the blood tests, and by then, the patient was usually better.”

Now, PCR tests for pneumonia are available.

As many prepare to attend holiday gatherings in the coming weeks, Vanderhoof said his hope is “that we don’t let our guard down.”

“Some of what we can do to stay healthy includes very basic steps, like washing your hands frequently, and covering your mouth when you cough,” Vanderhoff said. “However, I also ask you to keep in mind the protection of others.”

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