INDIANAPOLIS — After Indiana saw a brutal start to the flu season, cases have started to drop off.
On Friday, the Indiana Department of Health released its weekly influenza report, showing cases and deaths in the week ending January 7. The report shows a decrease in the percentage of patients with influenza-like illnesses in clinics. However, more people have died.
Officials say 132 people have died from the flu so far this season. This is 38 more deaths than reported in the previous week.
Of the deaths this season, the majority occurred in people who were 65 years old or older. So far, there have been 2 pediatric flu deaths in Indiana. Nationwide, there have been 79 pediatric deaths nationwide.
Nationwide, there have been 12,409 people admitted to the hospital with influenza over the last week. This is the fourth straight week hospitals have seen a decrease in influenza hospitalizations.
While hospitalizations are going down, the CDC reports that the cumulative hospitalization rate was 1.8 times higher than the highest cumulative in-season hospitalization rate dating back to 2010-2011. However, it was still lower than end-of-season hospitalization rates for all but four pre-COVID-19 pandemic seasons.
So far this season, the CDC estimates there have been at least 24 million illnesses, 260,000 hospitalizations, and 16,000 deaths from flu.
The CDC says the highest rate of hospitalization is among adults aged 65 and older followed by children aged 0-4 years.
The CDC says the majority of influenza viruses tested are similar to those included in this season’s vaccine. That is why they are encouraging everyone older than 6 months to get vaccinated.
The CDC says the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.