Belmont County - Out of tragedy, comes awareness. And out of awareness, comes change.
In the wake of an Ohio County child dying of the flu, people in Belmont County are suddenly calling their county health department.
They are suddenly wanting to see if they can still get a flu shot.
And for many, there still is time.
But others have already been hit with the flu.
The health department has no way to learn the number of people who have gotten the flu.
But they do receive the number who have been hospitalized due to the flu.
And those numbers are significantly up.
"In 2014, we had 20 cases," said Lynn Schrum, infectious disease nurse. "In 2017, we had like 21 cases. In 2018 to date we've had 28 cases already."
"We've been receiving quite a few phone calls wanting to know if we have the flu shot vaccine here," noted Rob Sproul, deputy health director. "And we do. And we encourage people who have not yet received the shot to come out and get the shot. We don't want that tragedy happening here that happened over there."
Lynn Schrum says they sometimes get six calls a day or 14 a week, reporting cases of hospitalized flu patients.
But she says Belmont County is no worse than anyplace else.
In her words, this year the flu is a nationwide epidemic.
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