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A weekly update on influenza (flu) activity in Indiana will be provided by state health officials each Wednesday, starting October 2013. This update includes general information on flu activity based on surveillance across the state, but will NOT include flu case counts at either the state or the county level.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract. The illness can be mild to severe and can be fatal in some people. Although anyone can become infected with influenza, the elderly, young children, or anyone with other health problems are at greater risk from developing more severe illness or suffer from the complications of influenza, such as pneumonia. Every year, more than 36,000 Americans die from influenza-related complications.
Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets from close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth, or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose. Infected adults may be able to spread the virus to others about one day before they develop symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Symptoms usually include:
Symptoms usually start about 1-4 days after being exposed and last 2-7 days.
A health care professional usually diagnoses influenza by looking at your symptoms. Sometimes your nose will be swabbed and tested for the influenza virus.
Influenza is usually treated with fever reducers, throat or cough drops, water, and plenty of rest. If the diagnosis is made at the very beginning of the illness, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.
The best protection is to get a flu shot every year before the flu season starts. Since influenza viruses change over time, it is important to get a shot each year. Each year the vaccine is remade to include the types of flu virus expected to cause illness during that flu season. The vaccine begins to protect you within a few days after vaccination, but the vaccine is not fully effective until about 14 days after vaccination.
Good respiratory hygiene is important to prevent the spread of ALL respiratory infections, including influenza.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently detected an increase in the number of reports to VAERS of febrile seizures following vaccination with Fluzone (trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or TIV, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.). Fluzone is the only influenza vaccine recommended for use for the 2010-2011 flu season in infants and children 6-23 months of age. These reported febrile seizures have primarily been seen in children younger than 2 years of age. Data from VAERS are preliminary and serve as a sign or indication that further investigation is warranted. Further investigations are under way to assess whether there could be an association between influenza vaccination and febrile seizures, or if other factors could be involved. FDA and CDC have seen no increase in VAERS reports of febrile seizures in people older than 2 years of age following vaccination with TIV, and no increase after live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine). In the cases reported, all children recovered and no lasting effects have been seen. Recommendations for the use of flu vaccine in children have not changed.
For more info, go to the FDA Website.
Page last reviewed by ISDH on February 9, 2011
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