Flu activity rising, but less severe this year

Nationally, flu activity is increasing.

In Indiana, flu activity is reported as widespread.

And in the Michiana area, the number of flu cases and hospitalizations has been increasing, as we expect this time of year. But the number is significantly lower right now than this time last year, says Kelly Jolliff, Beacon Health System’s infection preventionist manager.

As of Thursday morning, there have been 84 total cases of flu at Elkhart General and Memorial hospitals, Jolliff says. Twenty-eight of those cases required hospitalizations.

“Last year by this time, we saw over 526 cases of flu at MHSB and EGH, with 215 requiring hospitalization,” she says. “Much lower numbers than this time last year, thankfully.”

H1N1 is the most prevalent flu virus circulating this year. But the good news is H1N1 IS covered in the flu vaccine.

“Since this has been in the vaccine since 2009, I would expect the impact of an H1N1 season to be much lower than in 2009, when it was a new virus circulating. Last year was an H3 predominant season, which is usually when we see much higher numbers and more severe illness,” she says.

Respiratory viruses are also on the rise right now. WNDU interviewed Sarah Paturalski, Memorial Hospital’s vice president of nursing, and Memorial Hospitalist Dr. Nikhil Patankar about flu and RSV on WNDU today. Watch the segment on the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts on Channel 16.

“Mild winter equals mild flu season — both great in my book,” Jolliff says.

Remember the “3 Cs” when it comes to not spreading germs if you are sick:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes,
  • Contain illness by staying home when you are sick,
  • Clean your hands and surfaces often.