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Indiana Flu Activity Is On The Rise, Three Deaths So Far

By Jill Sheridan, IPB News | Published on in Health, Statewide News

Three people in Indiana died from the flu, according to the latest report from the Indiana State Department of Health.  As the season ramps up, Indiana hospitals also report an increase in flu cases.

The rise in flu cases prompted Indiana University Health to announce temporary visitor restrictions at two children’s hospitals.

Riley Children’s Hospital’s medical director of infection prevention, Dr. John Christenson, says they keep track of respiratory viruses circulating throughout the state to determine visitor restrictions.

“Our greatest concern is young children who are more likely to transmit viruses if they come into our hospital environment they may spread one of these respiratory viruses to one of our children in the hospital,” says Christenson.

Dr. Christopher Belcher, infectious disease specialist with Ascension St. Vincent, says they’ve seen an uptick in cases this season, but less hospitalizations. He says that could be due to the predominant strain type.

“Generally these H1N1 seasons are less severe,” says Belcher.

Last flu season was considered severe – Indiana had 336 flu related deaths. Belcher gives his advice.

“Get your flu vaccine,” says Belcher. “They’re not perfect but they are safe and they do work.”

All three deaths were people over the age of 50. Belcher says some vaccinations are aimed at this age group.

“So one of those would be the recombinant vaccine, Flublok, for those 50 and older,” says Belcher. “And then we see the high dose vaccine for people 65 and over.”

Indiana hospitals work together, through the Indiana Coalition for Patient Safety, to determine whether more hospital restrictions need to be enforced.