Statement as issued Thursday by the Indiana State Department of Health:
INDIANAPOLIS — Two flu-related deaths have been reported this week by the Indiana State Department of Health. Health officials say the continued number of deaths and illnesses stress the importance of getting vaccinated each year and practicing good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of flu.
Indiana has experienced 70 flu-related deaths this season, five of those in individuals younger than 18 years of age. The vast majority (64) of deaths have occurred in individuals with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, diabetes, and cardiac and renal diseases. Flu season generally runs from October through May.
“Although we are nearing the end of flu season, it’s not over yet and there’s still a very real risk of becoming ill with influenza,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Your best defense at this point is to continue to be diligent with hand washing. Severe flu seasons, such as this one, demonstrate the importance of getting vaccinated each and every year and as early in the season as possible.”
Dr. VanNess says practicing the following “Three C’s” will help protect you and prevent the spread of flu.
• 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.
Flu symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat and body aches. Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider. Individuals 65 and older are more susceptible to complications and death from flu and are urged to seek treatment quickly if they experience symptoms.
Flu vaccination is recommended for anyone six 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. Because the vaccine can be less effective for people 65 and older, it is especially important for others to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu to individuals in that age group.
For more information about Indiana’s 2012-2013 influenza season, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov.