There were two more flu-related deaths this week, bringing the total number of deaths from influenza in Indiana to seven since December. With school absentee rates 20 percent above normal for grades K-12 in the state, county health officials are encouraging people to get a flu shot to prevent it from spreading.
According to health workers, this year's strain is causing more severe symptoms than strains from previous years.
The Elkhart County Health Officer says he feels that people underestimate the flu as an illness and the complications it can cause.
"A primary influenza infection can make you quite ill, but you can also get secondary bacterial pneumonias. So what happens is the viruses you get infected with first, damage airways or damages your lungs, and that provides an open door for bacteria to come in and cause bacterial pneumonia," said Dr. Dan Nafziger.
Nafziger said it is not necessarily the flu that kills, but the stress of the infection on a person's system can cause heart failure or kidney problems for those who already may have underlying heart problems or compromised immune systems.