Numerous cases reported in area during December
EVANSVILLE — When Mike Mammoser returned to Newburgh after a recent business trip to Chicago, he brought a suspected case of the flu home with him.
Though Mammoser didn’t go to the doctor, a few days after his return his twin sons Brady and Chase became sick with the same symptoms, including fever.
The boys went to the doctor and were diagnosed with Influenza A. After a couple of days — and a prescription for flu-fighting Tamiflu — the boys had recovered in time to celebrate their fourth birthday on Dec. 23.
Mammoser and his sons had a flu experience that’s typical of what medical professionals are seeing this flu season.
State and national health officials say this year’s flu season is getting off to an early and active start.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season usually peaks in February. But in the CDC’s most recent weekly flu report, for the week ending Jan. 4, 41 states reported widespread flu activity. Those states included Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
This week, the Indiana State Department of Health said cases of flu are on the rise in the Hoosier State, with a high number of flu-like cases being reported early in the season.
Since November, seven people have died of influenza-related causes as compared to none at this time last year, the state health department said.
“We are now well into what appears to be a somewhat severe flu season,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin said in a news release.
Local health care providers are also reporting early-season flu activity.
“Cases increased about two weeks ago,” said Christina Gehring, a family nurse practitioner with St. Mary’s West Side Connection.
“In our office, we had a peak right before Christmas.”
Gehring said her practice has seen a decline in flu cases since Christmas. She speculated that could be because holiday travel and gatherings have ended, which reduces the chances for flu to spread.
Starting Dec. 21, Deaconess Health System Laboratory started seeing an increase in the number of influenza tests requested by doctors, said microbiologist Gayle Stubbs.
Stubbs said the Deaconess lab had performed 965 influenza tests as of Jan. 6, with 16 percent of those tests coming back positive.
If there’s any good news, providers say, it’s that it’s not too late to get a flu shot if you need one.
“The vaccine is a very good match to the current strains of the flu,” Gehring said. “There’s still a large availability of the flu vaccine, and it is highly recommended to get it.”