(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana’s flu death toll is climbing again, now reaching 27 fatal cases statewide.
The Indiana State Department of Health issued its latest influenza update Wednesday. The new figure is up from 21 deaths reported since November earlier this week.
Twenty-four of those deaths have been with people age 65 or older. For that reason, state and local health officials are reaching out to long term care facilities to advise on the seriousness of influenza and provide recommendations for reducing its spread. Residents and staffs at nursing homes are encouraged to receive the flu vaccination.
This flu season has been particularly rough in Indiana. There were no flu-related deaths in the state last year and just three deaths in the 2010-2011 season.
“We are experiencing a more severe season than in recent years, however it’s important to recognize that flu is unpredictable and we have been through this before,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess. “Everyone older than 6 months should be vaccinated as a first line of defense. Frequent hand washing, covering your cough and staying home if you’re not feeling well will also help protect you and keep the flu from spreading.”
The ISDH says there is no shortage of flu vaccine currently reported, although there are reports of some locations temporarily depleting their supply due to recent high demand.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting that flu-deaths have reached epidemic levels a national level. That means the country is experiencing a higher number of flu-related deaths than expected.