Truth Editorial: The flu is preventable
Posted: 01/31/2013 at 1:15 am
After a long and deadly winter, thatís good news. Because for a while, it looked as if influenza would keep killing Hoosiers at a steady pace.
We need to remember this body count next fall.
During the 2011-12 flu season, the death toll reached three. The year before that, influenza took the lives of 25 Hoosiers.
Health agencies track flu deaths from Oct. 1 to May. So weíre not finished counting.
But the numbers reflect an epidemic. So far, Indiana flu deaths have increased by more than 1,300 percent over last season and 72 percent over 2010-11.
Influenza killed mostly among two groups this winter, the state reported ó the elderly and those with heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. State and local health officials started reaching out to long-term care centers two weeks ago, trying to curb the epidemic.
Itís too early to say if that initiative helped keep deaths at 43 last week. The flu is unpredictable.
Yet if the flu is rampaging through the stateís assisted care centers, we need to begin planning now to prevent another epidemic this fall. Vaccinations reduce the spread of influenza; families need to act on behalf of their loved ones and nursing homes may, in some cases, need to review their preventative care programs.
The one thing thatís clear is this ó if we can take steps to prevent another flu epidemic like this one, we should. We must not allow another preventable death, either this winter or next.