flu_season_LogoThe Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging residents to take precautions amid recent increases in flu-like illnesses in several areas of the state. Four Indiana residents have died of the flu since the influenza season began in October.

“It’s always heartbreaking to learn that someone died of the flu, and we are just now beginning to enter peak flu season,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H.  “Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent this serious illness, so I hope any Hoosier who hasn’t received a vaccine yet will consider getting one.”

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. It is especially important for healthcare workers to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients. Pregnant women should also get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their newborns from serious flu illness. The vaccine takes about two weeks to be fully effective.

Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.

Flu symptoms include:

  • fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat

Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. High-risk individuals include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immune-compromised and the elderly.

There is no cure for the flu, but some medications can help ease symptoms. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is urged to contact their healthcare provider.

People experiencing symptoms of flu-like illness should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and stay home when sick. Practicing the “Three Cs” can help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases:

  • Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
  • Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
  • Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.

To see the Indiana State Department of Health’s weekly flu report, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/22104.htm.

Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan—HIP 2.0—by visiting www.HIP.IN.gov or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.