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Flu cases on the rise, affecting children and the elderly

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Flu cases are on the rise across the country and Indiana is no exception.

Doctors say flu cases have been showing up later in the season the last few years.

That means even though the weather is warming up and spring is nearing, we’re not done with the flu.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot more flu in February and I’ve seen a spike more I would say over the last week or so as well,” IU Health Urgent Care Physician Dr. Wendy Mason said.

She saw three flu cases just Monday.

“We see a pretty sudden onset of symptoms, so usually they’ll have fever, sometimes higher fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose,” she said.

But she said in the majority of her cases, the person had not gotten a flu shot.

For her that’s a very important step in preventing this illness, especially this year.

“It’s hitting the younger ages and the older ages much harder,” she said.

“Nationally it’s been reported, a lot of pediatric deaths, so young children can get influenza, and they can be very vulnerable, and it can be life threatening,” Director of the Marion Co. Public Health Department and Eskinazi Physician Dr. Virginia Caine said.

She said this year the flu vaccine is doing its job.

“The predominant virus that we’re seeing from the flu is a strain called H3N2,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that the new vaccine that is out there actually provides protection against this particular strain.”

Both women recommend standard hygiene practices like hand washing, using hand sanitizer and staying away from others who are sick.

But they still recommend the extra step of the vaccine.

“We want to really encourage people to get your flu shot and we recommend even getting your flu shot going all the way through the month of June,” Caine said.

The Marion County Public Health Department offers low-cost flu vaccines at its district health offices.

And if you have insurance, the flu shot is often free.

The rate of flu cases at emergency rooms has not been high enough for hospitals to start flu restrictions.

But if cases keep getting more frequent, that could become a possibility.

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