Health officials warn of aggressive strain of flu this year

INDIANAPOLIS - Flu season has come again to Indiana, and local health officials are saying this year's strain is particularly aggressive.

Medical staff at Eskenazi Hospital say they've been unusually busy this year with an abnormally large number of flu patients.

"Usually we'll get a couple of cases trickle in, but it seems like this year it almost hit us right around the Christmas season, and unfortunately it's a pretty dangerous flu this year," said Jennifer Trotter, with Eskenazi Health Emergency Medicine.

And, Trotter said, it's not just the elderly or immunocompromised who are getting sick.

"Unfortunately it seems to be affecting people in a way that we may not have seen before," Trotter said. "That encourages me to tell you that the vaccine is important even if you are young and healthy."

Many pharmacies offer flu vaccines with no appointment needed.

"I think the convenience factor is beneficial because you don't have to think about it," said Leslie Lake, a clinical care coordinator for Kroger. "They can come in after work, they can come on the weekend … it's just a nice supplement to the doctor's office because it offers different hours and flexibility."

Despite the convenience, officials at the Centers for Disease Control estimate only a 45 percent vaccination rate nationwide.

Indiana has reported three flu deaths so far this season, and Indiana Department of Health leaders expect that number to go up. Last season the state reported more than 70 flu-related deaths.

Tell-tale signs of the flu include headaches and fever. If you believe you may have the flu, health officials encourage you to contact your doctor.

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