Indiana health officials report uptick in flu activity

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported Friday that there has been an increase in flu-like illnesses in several parts of the state and that four people have died of the flu since the season began in October.

“It’s always heartbreaking to learn that someone died of the flu, and we are just now beginning to enter peak flu season,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent this serious illness, so I hope any Hoosier who hasn’t received a vaccine yet will consider getting one.”

The ISDH recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year and that it is especially important for healthcare workers to get a flu vaccine to reduce the chance of transmitting illness to patients. Pregnant women should also get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their newborns from serious flu illness. The vaccine takes about two weeks to be fully effective.

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
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • 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.

There is no cure for the flu, but some medications can help ease symptoms. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is urged to contact their healthcare provider.
People experiencing symptoms of flu-like illness should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and stay home when sick. Practicing the “Three Cs” can 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.

To see the Indiana State Department of Health’s weekly flu report, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/22104.htm.