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Flu Deaths On Rise In Indiana

Posted On March 07, 2016

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service

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(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Since October, 19 people in Indiana have died of influenza associated illnesses, including two children.

Most of the deaths have occurred among those who are at higher risk of complications from the flu – the elderly, very small children, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Puneet Chopra, emergency director at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Maryland, says those are the people who have to be extra cautious.

“That specific population should definitely get checked more than everybody in the middle, because they’re more prone to developing pneumonia or bacterial infections,” he warns. “Flu can lead to death.”

The Indiana State Department of Health says there’s been an increase in flu activity, including severe illnesses in schools, long-term care facilities and correctional facilities in recent weeks.

Distinguishing a cold from the flu can be tough sometimes. Chopra says if you’re sneezing, have a sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose, it’s a cold. There can be mild body aches and fatigue with a cold, but if there’s a fever and you feel like you just can’t get out of bed, it’s more likely the flu.

Chopra says different people have different pain thresholds and may not be able to tell the difference easily.

“You’re never wrong to go get checked out by your doctor or by the emergency room,” he advises. “If you’re not feeling well, if you’re concerned – fair reason to go. Education and understanding the differences is important, because, obviously, we want to use these resources wisely.”

Doctors recommend that everyone age 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.

People can help prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and staying home when sick.