According to the most recent weekly Influenza Summary Update map posted by the CDC, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky are all states where the flu is considered "widespread".
St. Mary's says it's seen a rise in flu cases over the past few weeks. At the St. Mary's Westside Connection the first confirmed case came just before Christmas. Deaconess says its lab detected its first case of Influenza A on November 13, 2012, and its first case of Influenza B a few weeks later on December 5th.
The Deaconess Health System Laboratory says it has submitted 33 positive influenza tests to the Indiana State Board of Health. All but one of those tests came back as Influenza A/H3. One was Influenza A/H1N1.
"Beginning December 21, Deaconess Health System Laboratory began to see an increase in the number of influenza tests requested. Deaconess Health System Laboratory performed 965 influenza tests through January 6. We have a positivity rate of 16%," said K. Gayle Stubbs, Ph.D., D-ABMM, a microbiologist with Deaconess Hospital.
In Owensboro, OMHS says it is experiencing a huge increase in the number of patients testing positive for flu compared to last year. In November-December 2012 that number was 343, compared to just 6 during that same time in 2011. The hospital says the majority of those patients were outpatients.
Henderson's Methodist Hospital says out of 423 patients tested in December, 46 tested positive for flu A and 8 for flu B.
Overall, health officials say the flu is hitting earlier this year. They also want to remind the public that it's not too late to get a flu shot. In most cases, flu shots are still available. One exception is the Muhlenberg County Health Department. The Henderson County Health Department says it has only a limited supply left that is being administered by appointment only.
In Vanderburgh County, the Health Department says it has seen a large decrease in the number of children who have been vaccinated this year. Children ages 6 months to 18 years old may receive flu vaccines by appointment Monday-Friday by calling (812) 435-5997 or by walking in Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8:00am-11:00am and 1:00pm-3:00pm or Tuesday 10:00am-1:00pm and 3:00pm-5:00pm.
"Children from 6 months to 8 can receive a vaccine, but if it's the first time they're receiving the vaccine they need a second dose in a month and their protection doesn't start until two weeks after that second dose. So it's really important that people get their 6 month olds through 8 year olds in here or to their doctor's office now to get that flu vaccine going so that they can get some protection for the rest of the flu season," said Denis Cory, RN, the Director of the Communicable Disease division at the Vanderburgh County Health Department.
Cory says the flu season could last into April or even May in Southern Indiana.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, symptoms of the flu include:
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