Flu week six

Statewide flu numbers ticked up this week but still remained at the "minimal" level for the state.

INDIANAPOLIS — Flu activity is still minimal across Indiana, but incidence is rising and is at a higher point now than it was at the same time in the past for years.

Flu rates are still below the statewide benchmark, but numbers are up compared to the previous week.

For the week ended Nov. 13, flu activity was still rated “minimal,” the state’s lowest rating, but numbers were rising.

Flu rates reported by sentinel outpatient providers was 1.72% in the sixth week of surveillance, which was up about a quarter percentage point from the week prior, but still below benchmarks.

The sentinel rate is currently higher than it was for the sixth weeks of monitoring in the past four years, although not by much. It’s too early to declare whether the state may see an earlier rise to the winter flu season, as cases usually don’t start rising noticeably until December.

Flu rates usually rise during December and then stay higher until March or April, depending on the year.

The rate of influenza-like illness reports at emergency rooms and urgent care centers was also low at 1.66%, which is also up compared to a week ago.

That rate is a little lower than it was in the 2019-20 flu season — which was one of the state’s heavier years in the past five seasons — but higher than other recent years.

Indiana Health District 3, which covers northeast Indiana, is showing the lowest flu activity among state regions at the time, with other parts of the state showing slightly higher rates.

Indiana had no new flu deaths reported this week, with the season total remaining at one so far this year. The state also had one other flu-attributed death that occurred before the official monitoring season that opens at the beginning of October.

The state did report its first flu outbreak in a long-term care facility, where the virus can be dangerous to the community of older Hoosiers living in a congregant setting.

Indiana typically sees more than 100 flu deaths per year, ranging between about 70-150 in an average year. In good years, that number can be lower than 10 deaths, as happened last season, but can top 300 deaths caused by flu in particularly bad years.

Flu is most dangerous to the elderly, people who are immuno-compromised, children under 5 years old — especially those 6 months old and younger — and pregnant women.

The state did identify another sample with the strain of Influenza A/H3 seasonal virus through testing at the state health department lab this week. Testing is limited, but that strain is the only one that’s been identified in the lab so far this year.

The state also did test one sample that showed Respiratory Syncytial Virus, another common virus that is one of the top causes of hospitalization in infants if they contract the virus and develop a severe respiratory problem.

Weekly flu reports can be found online at in.gov/health/erc/infectious-disease-epidemiology/diseases-and-conditions-resource-page/weekly-influenza-reports/.

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