Indiana flu deaths nearly 17 times higher than this time last season

Hany Atallah
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This year there have been nearly seventeen times more flu related deaths in Indiana compared to this same time last year. 167 people have lost their lives this season, compared to ten at the same time last year, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

IU Health Medical Director of Infection and Prevention Dr. Cole Beeler says the worst is yet to come this flu season.

“This year has yet to peak. So, we have lots more flu season ahead of us,” Said Dr. Beeler. “Typically (flu season) lasts 16-20 weeks; that would put this one ending around April-ish to mid April.”

Because influenza is unpredictable, Dr. Beeler says nobody can really determine how much worse it will get. But in 2017, the health department reports from early February to the end of May indicated flu deaths in the Hoosier state went up more than ten times, to 103 deaths.

Dr. Beeler doesn’t believe that trend is any indication of what the rest of this season will look like.

“(The) flu will spike at different times each year. So, it’s tough to compare year to year. Really, we’ll only know how bad this flu season is going to be compared to others when it’s over,” said Dr. Beeler.

Beeler also added that he believes fewer cases of influenza A will be diagnosed and more cases of influenza B, which is typically milder and not the type of flu responsible for the majority of deaths.