GREENSBURG – Earlier this week, the Daily News reported the beginnings of an influenza (flu) outbreak spreading across Indiana.
The Daily News spoke with several staff members at Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) to learn more about the specific flu strain currently making its way through the Hoosier population. DCMH clinical laboratory director Trudy Ewing said H1N1 is the predominant strain of influenza in Indiana this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Right now in Indiana, if you have the flu; it’s likely H1N1,” Ewing said.
H1N1 was first identified in 2009 as the swine flu, when it burst onto the scene and caused an uproar. Since then, the virus has mutated slightly, but not enough to move it into another class, or type. Ewing said H1N1 is a bit more aggressive and harder to fight off than other strains of the flu, which typically effect young children and elderly adults. However, with H1N1, those who may usually be better equipped to fight off the flu, like older children and young adults, are coming down with the illness as well. According to Ewing, it’s simply harder to fight off.
Indiana residents can take action to protect themselves from the flu. According to the CDC, as well as numerous local health professionals, the flu vaccine is the single most effective step anyone can take to protect themselves from catching and spreading the influenza virus. Frequent hand washing is the second most effective action one can take to prevent flu-related illness.
“The CDC monitors which strains of the virus are active each year and uses that information to make the vaccine. This year, the vaccine is tailored to protect against H1N1,” Ewing said, adding that receiving the vaccine does not guarantee one will not catch the flu.