Make your home page

Flu cases declining but still as dangerous, doctors say

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The flu season is not over yet but health leaders say it has gotten better and that flu-related illnesses are on the decline.

Earlier this week hospitals in Marion County released flu restrictions. The restrictions had been in place since early in January because there were so many flu cases.

This flu season there have been 278 flu deaths statewide, about 20 of those from downtown hospitals. New numbers will be released Friday.

“Flu is still very much around. It is still just as dangerous, there’s just less of it,” said Cole Beeler an Indiana University Health Doctor of Infectious Diseases.

Even though it has been said this flu season is the worst in recent years, Beeler expected it to be even worse.

“The rule with the flu is that it is unpredictable and every few years you’re going to see a very severe season,” Beeler added. “This season was quite severe but we were anticipating it being a lot worse. Now it was probably the worse in the decade since there was a lot of flu around but the vaccine in the Southern Hemisphere did not work as well as it is probably going to work here.”

Health experts are able to somewhat predict how severe the flu will be in the U.S. based on what the flu was like in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The flu trend, even though it’s coming down, it’s just that, it’s a trend that’s coming down. What we’re really liking to see is zero flu cases but we are still seeing flu cases that are admitted to the hospital,” Beeler says. “We’re still seeing transmissions so it’s important to just know that it’s still out there.”

The vaccine worked better than what was also expected.

“I would say it did actually work better than we thought it was going to work so in the southern hemisphere we expected probably a 10 percent efficacy for H3N2 but maybe a 30 percent efficacy overall. but actually about 40-60 percent depending on what age group you fall in so this was pretty encouraging to me,” he said.

The typical flu season is from October to around April, or even longer.

“We’re going downhill, which is good. Now, that said, I expect the full will linger on probably into April maybe toward the beginning of May just based on what the trend looks like,” Beeler added.

Since the flu is still around, people are encouraged to still get a flu shot, wash their hands, and avoid contact with sick people.

To learn more about this flu season, click here.