INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana has had 107 flu deaths this season, exceeding the 2016-17 tally, state health authorities announced Friday.
The State Department of Health recorded 103 flu deaths in the 2016-2017 season, which ended in May. The department’s 2017-2018 tally grew in a week by 28 deaths, a slight drop compared to the number of deaths in the past two weeks.
The department’s report listed counties with more than five flu deaths this season. Marion County has recorded nine flu deaths, more than any other county. Hamilton County followed with eight deaths. Allen County (Fort Wayne) and Shelby County each recorded six deaths while St. Joseph County (South Bend) had five.
The state tally includes 83 people who were 65 or older. That number grew from 58 a week earlier.
Fifteen of this season’s deaths were people ages 50-64. The other deaths involved seven people ages 25-49. The state’s first flu death of the season was a victim in the age 5-24 grouping, but another victim age 5-24 died in the latest tally.
Hospitals in Indianapolis and other parts of central Indiana have implemented restrictions on visitors since the start of the year due to the spread of the flu virus.
The federal government doesn’t track every flu case but comes up with estimates. It estimated, across the United States last week, 1 in 15 doctor visits were for symptoms of the flu. That’s the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009. Also, hospitalization rates for people 50 to 64 — Baby Boomers, mostly — have been unusually high, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
“It’s important to go to primary care office or even urgent care facility over the emergency department if you do suspect you have the flu. The reason for that in emergency medicine there is a lot of overcrowding,” IU Health Primary Care Doctor Arnold Henry said earlier this month.
According to Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, anyone is at risk; healthy and sick. She offered these tips to avoid the flu:
- 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 health department has a list of locations to get flu shots.
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