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Six flu-related deaths reported in St. Joseph County, none in Elkhart County

There have been 11 flu-related deaths in Indiana. Six of those have been in St. Joseph County.

Posted on Jan. 18, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

ELKHART — While no flu-related deaths have been reported in Elkhart County this season, a neighboring county has been hit particularly hard.

Eleven deaths in Indiana have been linked to the flu, and six have been in St. Joseph County. The Indiana State Department of Health released its newest figures Friday, Jan. 17.

Two vaccine combinations are available for the current flu season. The trivalent vaccine offers protection against the three most common strains of influenza — H3N2, H1N1 and one type of Influenza B. A new quadrivalent vaccine introduced this season helps fight a second Influenza B strain.

“The predominant strain has still been similar to the 2009 H1N1,” said Dr. Daniel Nafziger, Elkhart County’s health officer. “That strain actually hit younger people harder and hit pregnant people harder, and there’s some suggestion that it hits people who are obese harder, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if those groups are being impacted in St. Joe County, but I have not heard any specific information about what’s going on in our neighboring county.”

Flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone 6 months and older and people with a higher risk of illness including pregnant women, young children, seniors and people with chronic illnesses or weak immune systems.

Nafziger said it is somewhat of a guessing game for health officials to determine which influenza strains will become prevalent during any given flu season.

“So far, it’s looks like there’s a pretty good match between the vaccine strain and the predominant circulating strain, and that’s a good thing, but there isn’t usually detailed information about that until a month or two from now,” Nafziger said.

VISITORS LIMITED AT IU HEALTH GOSHEN HOSPITAL

IU Health Goshen Hospital is limiting the number of visitors seeing patients because of the flu season. Dr. Randy Cammenga, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said IU Health Goshen is requesting that patients have no more than two visitors.

“We’re also asking that visitors be 12 and older,” he said.

Children, Cammenga added, tend to carry more germs because they typically touch more surfaces and do not wash their hands as well. Nurses have also been screening visitors, watching for symptoms of illness like runny noses and coughing.


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