State health officials have reported the first influenza (flu) deaths of the 2013-14 flu season.
Influenza is now widespread across Indiana, said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D.
“Flu activity is increasing around the state,” VanNess said. “The recent deaths remind us that influenza can be very serious and even deadly. I encourage all Hoosiers to become vaccinated from flu to protect themselves, their families and the community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that several flu-deaths, including children, have been reported across the nation and predict the numbers will increase as flu season continues.
A flu vaccine locator can be found online at www.StateHealth.in.gov. Flu vaccine can usually be found at local health departments, pharmacies, and with health care providers.
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 get vaccinated. High risk individuals include pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems, and the elderly.
State health officials also encourage influenza vaccination of health care workers, and household contacts and caregivers of children less than 6 months of age, as well as household contacts of people at high risk for flu complications.
VanNess also reminds Hoosiers to practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent spread of flu and other infectious diseases:
• Clean your hands often with soap and warm water.
• Cover your cough and sneeze using your sleeve or a tissue.
• Contain your illness by staying home when you are sick.
Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets from close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth, or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose.
Symptoms of flu include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, headache, fatigue, cough, muscle aches, and sore throat.
For more information about Indiana’s 2013-14 influenza season, visit the website at www.StateHealth.in.gov.