State health officials say the number of flu-related deaths in Indiana this season has doubled to 50 as of the first week of 2018.
The Indiana State Department of Health says in its weekly influenza report for the period ending Dec. 6 that 36 of the deaths occurred among people age 65 or older, compared with 16 deaths in that age group being reported through Dec. 30.
Ten other deaths have occurred in the 50-64 age group, three in the 25-49 age group and one in the 5-24 age group.
The report says flu activity is widespread across the state.
The state’s health department says privacy laws prevent the department from reporting locations (counties, cities, etc.) of flu deaths unless a given location has more than five such deaths.
Several Indiana hospitals have taken precautions to prevent the spread of the flu. They include barring visitors showing flu symptoms and those other than immediate family or other significant persons.
In late December, both Union Hospital (Terre Haute and Clinton) and Terre Haute Regional Hospital announced visiting restrictions because of the spread of influenza, the flu. Those restrictions include:
• No visitors under 18.
• Limit of two visitors per patient.
• In pediatrics, obstetrics and nursery, visitors are limited to parents and grandparents.
• No one with flu-like symptoms should visit.
Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract and is spread by 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.
Common symptoms include a fever of 100 Fahrenheit or higher, headache, fatigue, cough, muscle aches, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose.
The flu is different from a cold, and the CDC website at www.CDC.gov/flu lists information about both illnesses.
There’s been some concern both in the U.S. and Canada that this season’s vaccine is not particularly effective against certain influenza A strains, but national, state and local health experts still recommend a flu shot.