LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - It's the bug that keeps on growing. Millions of Americans nationwide have been hit hard this year with influenza. Indiana Health officials said 21 people in Indiana alone have died from this year's outbreak.
"I think we're seeing 50 to 75% more cases of documented flu this year," Dr. Schwartz from Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health in Lafayette said.
Doctors said if you haven't already gotten your flu shot there is still time to try and fight the bug that keeps biting.
"It's never too late to get your flu shot," Dr. Schwartz said. "Even though we're into January and even into February, I would encourage people, especially people that are at risk, to get your flu shots."
Dr. Schwartz said those at risk for getting the flu are typically children and elderly. But he reminds everyone to wash hands frequently and seek medical attention if you think you have the flu before it's too late.
"The sooner you're seen and diagnosed with influenza, the more likely you are to get treated with the medication like Tamiflu," Dr. Schwartz said. "We can start the medicantion if we catch influenza within the first 48 hours. After that window, there is really not an advantage to Tamiflu."
But how do you know if you're just sick with the common cold or if you've been exposed to influenza? Health officials said sometimes it's hard to tell if you have a cold or the flu because many of the symptoms from the two illnesses overlap. However, there are several differences between the two.
"The common cold will kind of ramp up for a little bit," registered nurse Scott Wood said. "The runny nose, the sneezing, the coughing usually starts out minor and works its way to being a little bit worse."
"Influenza for many people just tends to be more severe," Dr. Schwartz said. "So where as with the common cold, you're still up, moving around the house, maybe going to work. With influenza most people are sick enough where those types of things are very challenging."
Influenza should stick around until about March. Two of the flu-related deaths in Indiana were patients younger than 18.
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