Influenza-like illness is on the rise, according to the most recent weekly flu report from the Indiana State Department of Health. Indiana, along with many other states, is experiencing a high level of influenza-like activity early on this season, with seven deaths being reported since November. By comparison, no influenza-related deaths had been reported at this time last year.
“We are now well into what appears to be a somewhat severe flu season,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “However, it is absolutely not too late to become vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated this year, I encourage you to get vaccinated now to protect you and your family.”
The 2012-2013 vaccine protects against the three most common strains of influenza: H3N2, H1N1 and Influenza B. Health officials say that although cases of H1N1 and Influenza B have been reported, the H3N2 strain appears to be predominant. The 2012-2013 vaccine appears to be a good match for circulating flu strains.
“Typically, H3N2 seasons tend to be more severe, with a higher number of hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Larkin. “Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should contact their health care provider, even if they have been vaccinated.”
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
Flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older. It is especially important for those at higher risk of complications related to the flu to become vaccinated. High risk individuals include pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems and the elderly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that all health care workers become vaccinated each year to protect themselves and their patients.
Some other tips to help protect against the spread of influenza include:
- 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/work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
For more information about Indiana’s 2012-2013 influenza season, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov.