Flu season in south central Indiana may have reached its peak in mid-January, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
And the worst of the season in the Columbus area may already be behind us, local health officials said.
Columbus Regional Health is reporting a decrease in positive cases of influenza from December to January, according to Joel Philippsen, a director for the WellConnect program at CRH.
In December, 6.4 percent of suspected influenza cases test positive, but that figure dropped to 4.6 percent in January, Philippsen said.
On a seasonal level, there have been fewer cases reported in Bartholomew County than what was reported at this same time last year, Philippsen said.
During the week ending Jan. 19, a seven-county region that includes Bartholomew had 3.57 percent of the state’s 29 influenza-like illnesses reported by hospitals. However, that dropped to 2.88 percent by the end of the following week, according to a state health department update.
Six other counties are included with Bartholomew within that district, including Brown, Monroe, Jackson, Lawrence, Orange and Washington.
This week, Schneck Medical Center implemented visitor restrictions due to flu cases to help protect patients, staff and the community from the spread of influenza.
But Amanda Organist, director of nursing at the Bartholomew County Health Department, said she has not received any alarming news regarding the flu at this time.
“Nobody I’ve talked with is panicking or saying we have an epidemic,” Organist said. “I’ve also heard that the vaccine we currently have is a good match for the strains of flu that have been moving through our area.”
Nevertheless, the risk of getting a contagious flu-like illness remains high in the Hoosier state, according to state health officials.
Throughout the state, there have already been 20 influenza-associated deaths since the flu season began in November, the ISDH reported. Fifteen of the fatalities were people age 65 or older, while 4 percent were between ages 50 and 64, according to the agency.
Preschoolers up to 4 years old represent 34.4 percent of all Hoosiers with flu-like symptoms, while those between age 5 and 24 years old represent 53.1 percent of all confirmed cases. No deaths have been reported in those two categories, state health officials said.
How to avoid the flu
Every year, local and state officials encourage Hoosiers to obtain vaccinations against influenza.
But if you didn’t get a shot, you can still practice what is called the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases:
- Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
- Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
- Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
Source: Indiana State Department of Health