Health officials concerned about jump in flu cases
As you get ready to send your kids to school this morning, there's a new push to keep them healthy. That's because the Department of Health is calling flu rates here in Indiana "widespread to high."
So far this flu season, seven Hoosiers have died from flu-related illnesses. There has been a four-percent jump in doctor visits.
Pediatrician Michael McKenna said the flu season here in Indiana is already stronger than past years. In emergency rooms and clinics, the number of people treated for the flu jumped nearly 40 percent in one week.
With the children back at school - and sharing germs - this week, next week is expected to be a sick week for many across the state.
"We have seen it earlier and stronger than in other states," McKenna said of this year's flu. "It is good parents are concerned for children and themselves. The biggest thing you can do for yourself or your children is get a flu shot. It is not too late. We give them until we run out," McKenna said.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop, and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days, which means the flu lingers inside places like the classroom or daycare.
Aside from getting a flu shot, Dr. McKenna says frequent hand-washing is essential to prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses.
Also, make sure you are getting enough rest. Viruses can take hold when you're already run down, so don't give them the advantage. Exercise at least four times a week to boost your immune system, and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, along with whole grains and lean meats. Avoid refined foods and sugars.