Flu week 25

Flu activity ticked up a bit in the 25th week of monitoring, but still remained at “minimal” levels across the state.

INDIANAPOLIS — Flu activity rose a little for the week ending March 20, but that still remained “minimal” at levels below 1%.

Flu activity has stayed “minimal,” the lowest rating for spread of influenza, for the entirety of 2021 so far.

For the week ending March 20, the state recorded 380 more incidents of “influenza-like illness” at monitoring sites across the state. That’s an increase from 283 incidents the week before, but still low enough for the state to rate activity as “minimal.”

Influenza-like illness accounted for 0.8% of complaints at monitoring sites, which is up from 0.62% a week ago. But the rate still remained below 1%, which is where flu has stayed for the first three months of 2021.

In the past four years, flu rates have averaged about 3-6% at this time of year, so activity still remains extremely low in comparison.

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.

At urgent care centers and emergency room, flu-like illnesses accounted for 0.67% of complaints, which is also up compared to 0.51% a week ago.

That rate remains lower than past years, too, as that rate usually runs 2-6% at this time of year.

There have been five deaths attributed to flu this year, with none new reported in Week 25.

Flu activity has remained extremely low in the 2020-21 season so far, but flu sometimes does spike in late March. In 2019-20, the state had its highest percentage of flu cases reported at the end of March and into early April.

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.

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