Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Indiana health officials: Flu season over for now

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials have declared Indiana’s flu season officially over following a swine flu outbreak last fall that prompted long lines for vaccines and a surge in hand sanitizer use.

In the past year, 39 Indiana residents have died from complications of swine flu and a fifth of the state’s population has been vaccinated against the new flu strain, officials said.

While the flu season is over for now, Indiana residents should still get vaccinated because the H1N1 flu virus hasn’t caused a third-wave illness yet and could rebound, said State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin.

“If history is a teacher, there will be another outbreak,” Larkin said Friday. “What we don’t know is whether it will be in a milder form or not.”

The surge in H1N1 flu cases last fall eventually spurred 21 percent of Indiana residents to get vaccinated against the strain. More than 1.3 million immunizations against swine flu have been administered in Indiana.

Since June 2009, influenza has claimed the lives of 43 Indiana residents, including the 39 who had confirmed cases of swine flu, state health officials said.

The most recent fatal flu case occurred in the past week. That person had underlying medical conditions and the strain of flu has not been determined, state health officials said.

Flu activity in Indiana has diminished considerably from its October peak, when nearly 13 percent of emergency room patients exhibited flulike symptoms. That has fallen to 1 percent, state health officials said.

A little less than 30 percent of Indiana residents considered high-risk have received the vaccine, state health officials said.

More than 200,000 children younger than 10 are due for a second shot. Younger children must be vaccinated twice to be fully protected, but only 33 percent of the 322,765 children in ages 6 months to 9 years have had two doses, according to the state.

Since September, 98 percent of the nearly 1,000 viral specimens tested by state health officials were positive for the swine flu virus. And 84 percent of those samples came from children and young adults.

Children, teens and college-aged adults were the largest group sickened by the virus, unlike the seasonal flu that tends to affect the elderly in far greater numbers, state health officials said.



Posted 5/10/2010




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