INDIANAPOLIS — The seasonal flu outbreak that has killed 40 people so far in Indiana is the state's deadliest in half a decade.
State records show that past years have been tamer, with only three people dying of flu last season. The last such severe flu outbreak occurred during the 2007-2008 season when 73 people died of the illness.
State health officials say it's too soon to tell whether the spread of flu has peaked yet this season. Flu season typically runs from October to May.
The deadliest flu season since 2000 was the 2003-2004 outbreak when 91 people died in Indiana.
State epidemiologist Pamela Pontones says flu virus strains change every year, so it can be very difficult to predict the severity of each season.
Stomach flu spreads in Indiana
Influenza isn't the only type of flu Hoosiers need to worry about this season.
The Indiana State Department of Health said Friday that a new strain of norovirus, typically called stomach flu, is circulating throughout the U.S. and has recently been detected in Indiana. The agency says the symptoms are no worse than other types of stomach flu. Most people fully recover from stomach flu in one or two days.
Stomach flu is spread through consuming contaminated food or drink or by close contact with an infected person. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours.
Flu shots do not protect against stomach flu. To prevent getting sick, health officials recommend frequent hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and not preparing food if you're feeling ill.