Strong flu now considered ‘widespread’ in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 30, 2014) - The flu is spreading and this year it’s downright dangerous – and increasingly deadly.

Last week alone, three Hoosiers died from the flu.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it's now an epidemic, and flu season doesn't end until March.

The flu is now considered "widespread" in Indiana, with young children and the elderly most at risk.

“We are seeing this early peak in the flu season,” said Dr. Christopher Doehring, VP of Medical Affairs, Franciscan St. Francis Health. “It doesn't typically come on this strong this early."

"A couple weeks ago at work we had quite a few people out, but luckily I was saved,” said Mary Ellen Jungles. “I didn't get it. You think about it, but I really don't worry about it as much as I probably should."

Also, this year’s flu shot is proving to be less effective than last year’s - a strain of flu called H3N2 has been growing less responsive to the vaccine.

"The vaccine is still effective. It's not as effective on the strain that's going around right now, but we absolutely encourage people to get the vaccine,” said Doehring. “It's certainly not too late."

The other issue is Tamiflu, which is used to treat the flu.

Saint Francis has plenty, but some pharmacies are running low. Plus, it can be expensive and have possible side effects.

"It's not cheap, so some people decide not to get it because of cost, even if it is available, but it's certainly not an unreasonable thing to consider,” said Doehring. “It's only going to shorten the illness by a day or so probably in most people."

The best advice, according to doctors: Get a flu shot, wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home when you're sick.

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