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Indiana State Department of Health

Epidemiology Resource Center Home > Surveillance and Investigation > Diseases and Conditions Resource Page > Influenza (the flu) Influenza (the flu)

Influenza (Flu) Activity in Indiana 2013-2014

A weekly update on influenza (flu) activity in Indiana will be provided by state health officials each Thursday, starting October 2013. This update includes general information on flu activity based on surveillance across the state, but will NOT include flu case counts at either the state or the county level. 

About... Influenza ("the flu")

What is Influenza?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract. The illness can be mild to severe and can be fatal in some people. Although anyone can become infected with influenza, the elderly, young children, or anyone with other health problems are at greater risk from developing more severe illness or suffer from the complications of influenza, such as pneumonia. Every year, more than 36,000 Americans die from influenza-related complications.

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets from close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth, or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose. Infected adults may be able to spread the virus to others about one day before they develop symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Symptoms usually include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches

Symptoms usually start about 1-4 days after being exposed and last 2-7 days.

How do I know if I have influenza?

A health care professional usually diagnoses influenza by looking at your symptoms.  Sometimes your nose will be swabbed and tested for the influenza virus.

How is influenza treated?

Influenza is usually treated with fever reducers, throat or cough drops, water, and plenty of rest. If the diagnosis is made at the very beginning of the illness, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.

How can I protect myself from influenza?

The best protection is to get a flu shot every year before the flu season starts. Since influenza viruses change over time, it is important to get a shot each year. Each year the vaccine is remade to include the types of flu virus expected to cause illness during that flu season. The vaccine begins to protect you within a few days after vaccination, but the vaccine is not fully effective until about 14 days after vaccination.

Good respiratory hygiene is important to prevent the spread of ALL respiratory infections, including influenza.

  • Use your elbow or upper arm, instead of your hands, or a tissue to cover your mouth and nose or when you cough or sneeze.  Immediately throw used tissues into the wastebasket.
  • To clean your hands after coughing or sneezing, wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner if water is not available.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you get influenza, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings. This will help prevent others from catching your illness and gives your body the rest it needs to recover.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Many diseases often spread this way.
  • For additional information on influenza, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site at:http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.

Update: Vaccination with Fluzone

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently detected an increase in the number of reports to VAERS of febrile seizures following vaccination with Fluzone (trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or TIV, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.). Fluzone is the only influenza vaccine recommended for use for the 2010-2011 flu season in infants and children 6-23 months of age. These reported febrile seizures have primarily been seen in children younger than 2 years of age. Data from VAERS are preliminary and serve as a sign or indication that further investigation is warranted. Further investigations are under way to assess whether there could be an association between influenza vaccination and febrile seizures, or if other factors could be involved. FDA and CDC have seen no increase in VAERS reports of febrile seizures in people older than 2 years of age following vaccination with TIV, and no increase after live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine). In the cases reported, all children recovered and no lasting effects have been seen. Recommendations for the use of flu vaccine in children have not changed.

For more info, go to the FDA Website.

Page last updated: December 18, 2014

Page last reviewed: February 9, 2014

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