Influenza is circulating in Indiana and the number of cases is trending above last year’s figure, according to state health officials. Indiana has recorded 94 flu deaths so far this season, an increase from last year’s total of 83.
Moreover, state health officials say there has been an increase in hospitalizations for Hoosiers with flu-like illnesses.
“Like many states, Indiana is experiencing very high levels of flu activity right now,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box stated.
Influenza is a viral infection that affects the respiratory tract. Symptoms include sore throat, coughing, body aches, congestion, chills and fever. According to the Mayo Clinic, the flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs, which are part of the respiratory system. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
The flu spreads much like other viruses, in that it travels through the air in droplets, and when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks, droplets can be inhaled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with the virus are likely contagious from about a day before symptoms appear until about four days after they start.
“For the best chance of staying healthy, be sure to get the flu vaccine, stay home when you feel sick, wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth while coughing,” said Luke McKinney, an infection preventionist at IU Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers.
With higher levels of transmission, the Indiana Dept. of Health urges residents to protect themselves and their families by getting the flu vaccine.
“It is more important than ever to protect yourself and those around you from this highly contagious respiratory infection,” Box stated “This year’s flu vaccine continues to be a good match for the circulating strains, and it is your best protection against a severe, and possibly tragic, outcome.”
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 with your arm or a disposable tissue.
- Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.