INDIANAPOLIS — In the 20th week of annual flu surveillance in Indiana, not much has changed — Indiana is still seeing minimal impact from flu.
Not only do Hoosiers remain relatively free of flu, cases of COVID-19 across the state have also plummeted recently.
The Indiana State Department of Health once again classified the spread of flu across the state as “minimal,” with 357 new incidents of “influenza-like illness” reported by sentinel sites.
This season, the state has seen 10,425 reports of influenza-like illness at monitoring sites.
For the week ending Feb. 13, the state reported influenza-like illnesses accounted for 0.82% of complaints seen at outpatient facilities. That’s up from the week before at 0.78%, although within the trend of the state seeing fewer than 1% of cases for the last several weeks.
State health officials have noted that interventions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as masking, social distancing and staying home when ill, are likely to have beneficial impacts in reducing the spread of influenza.
The state also notes that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting whether Hoosiers visit health care providers if they are sick or if they’re riding out illnesses at home without seeking treatment or professional opinion.
Flu activity is usually running much higher at this time of year, with rates between 4-8% over the last four flu seasons previous to this year.
Reports of influenza-like illness at urgent care centers and emergency rooms were also low again at 0.63%, down from 0.71% the week before.
That, too, is significantly lower than previous years which have ranged from as low as 2% to up to almost 7% depending on the year.
The state did record one new death attributable to flu on the week, bringing the 2020-21 death toll to four.
That’s still significantly lower compared to other years. The state had 103 flu deaths in 2016-17, the lowest in recent history, but as many as 336 in 2017-18.
Barring some change over the last 14 weeks of monitoring, this season is easily on pace to be the state’s most minor flu season in recent history, possibly ever.
The state has not identified any particular strains of flu through testing at the Indiana State Department of Health lab yet this year, although specimen testing numbers are lower than in previous years, as the state has been primarily focused on fighting COVID-19 this season.
Weekly flu surveillance reports from this year and previous years can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health website at in.gov/isdh/22104.htm.