INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials are reporting the first influenza-associated death in Indiana for the 2015-2016 flu season. Because of privacy laws, no additional information about the patient will be released.
Although this death has occurred early in the flu season, state health officials report flu activity is currently minimal in both the state and country. Residents are encouraged to get a flu vaccine.
“Unfortunately, this is a sad reminder that influenza can be very serious and deadly, and our sympathies go out to the patient’s family,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Though our flu activity is minimal so far, people shouldn’t get complacent about the flu. Getting your flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent serious influenza illness in yourself and others.”
State health officials say everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. People can help prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and staying home when sick.
Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Flu symptoms include:
- fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
- muscle aches
- sore throat
Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. High-risk individuals include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immune-compromised and the elderly.
“Anyone with a baby in the house should get vaccinated,” Dr. Adams said. “It’s the best way to protect newborns who are too young to receive a vaccination.”
Healthcare workers also are urged to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients.
Health officials say Hoosiers should practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases:
• Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
• Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
• Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at http://www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/isdh1.
Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan—HIP 2.0—by visiting http://www.HIP.IN.gov or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.