Flu-related deaths rise to 87 in Indiana

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Flu virus (Photo courtesy of CNN)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The number of flu-related deaths continues to rise, according to the Indiana State Health Department.

Officials say 87 people have died from the flu this season. This is 14 more deaths than the previous week.

Data: Indiana National Electronic Disease Surveillance System

Of the deaths this season, 15 were between the ages of 25-49, 21 were between 50-64 years old and 48 were at least 65 years old. 16 of the deaths were in Marion County.

Health officials say the U.S. is on track for one of the worst flu seasons in decades. The CDC estimates that so far this season, there have been at least 34-million flu illnesses and 20,000 deaths from the flu.

The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza remains below the epidemic threshold of 7.3% nationally.

Hospitalization rates remain similar to this time during recent seasons overall. However, the CDC says hospitalizations among young adults and children are the highest the agency has on record.

RELATED: AP-NORC poll: More Americans worry about flu than new virus

One reason for this is that they’re particularly susceptible to influenza B, this season’s dominant strain. Compared with flu A, flu B is relatively stable and doesn’t change as much from year to year, so many adults have immunity to it from infections earlier in life.

Officials say it’s not too late to get this year’s shot. They advise everyone older than 6 months get vaccinated.

If you’re sick with even mild flu symptoms, health officials are asking that you stay away from emergency rooms.

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.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • 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.

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