6 die from flu in Marion County so far this season

WISH-TV employee Kadee Ertel said Jan. 18, 2018, that she had just gotten over a bout with the flu. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The flu continues to take more and more lives.

There have been 50 deaths in Indiana so far this season, according to the Indiana Department of Health’s latest weekly report. A new report is due out Friday.

Marion County is averaging more than one death a month, according to the county health department. One victim, in his or her 40s, was otherwise healthy, said Dr. Virginia Caine of the county department. She said it can happen to anyone, but there are some preventative measures you can take.

Dealing with a pesky cough is the bright side compared to what WISH-TV employee Kadee Ertel just got over.

“It so was rough. I had a fever. I had, I think, about a 102 fever,” Ertel said.

Ertel had the flu, despite getting a flu vaccine. She missed work. She wore a mask. The virus didn’t go away for two weeks.

“For me, it was still the worst I’ve ever felt. But, it was nothing compared to all of these other stories that we’ve been hearing of people dying.”

Right here in Marion County, six people have died since the beginning of flu season; two happened in the past week, Caine said.

“A lot has to do with the strain; influenza A, H3N2. That is very deadly because it’s undergone a number of mutations,” Caine said.

According to Caine, anyone is at risk; healthy and sick. So, she’s offering basic, yet important advice.

  • Prevent the spread of germs. Washing hands frequently and coughing in your sleeve are examples.
  • Take antiviral medications. If your doctor approves, medications like Tamiflu can shorten the duration of your illness.
  • Get a flu vaccine. There is still plenty of time. Flu season doesn’t end until March, and sometimes as late as May.

“The efficacy of the vaccine is about 30 percent. Even if you acquire the flu, it can make it so it’s a milder form,” Caine said.

“Milder” isn’t how Ertel would describe her bout. But, she’s still grateful.

“I actually kind of felt a little lucky that it wasn’t as bad as what I’ve been seeing,” Ertel said.

Caine also recommended avoiding people who have the flu. Part of that means not going to hospitals. Marion County has visitor restrictions in place at all hospitals, according to Caine.