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Flu is now Widespread in the Region and elsewhere

indiana state department of health
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu season is now widespread throughout the Region and the rest of the state and it is also now showing up in at least 34 other states.


Health Officer Doctor Sara Cody says most urgent care facilities along with hospitals are implementing new rules for patients  including, "requiring patients to wear a mask to help reduce the spread from the ill person to the well people who might be sitting (near) by." People who may not have come in contact with the virus to also wear a mask to prevent spreading the flu to themselves. 
 
Public health official, Doctor Gil Chavez says, "people get sick pretty quickly and people have been reported to actually go from being healthy to having the flu to being in the hospital within two days." 
 
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, in Indiana of the 41 specimens submitted for influenza testing at ISDH Laboratory for the week ending January 4, 2014, nearly three quarters tested positive. The number of influenza-associated deaths reported so far this flu season in Indiana is three.

 

About... Influenza ("the flu")  from:  http://www.in.gov/isdh/22104.htm

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 Websitehttp://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm240037.htm

 

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More Residents Riding the V-Line in Valparaiso

V-Line logo
Public transportation is alive and thriving in Valparaiso. Tayler Wegrzyn told the Times that "People are starting to realize it's here to stay."

Ridership on the V-Line is up 23.5 percent from 2012, topping a little over 124-thousand riders in 2013. The daily average on the three routes is 340 riders, according to the article. In addition to that, Wegrzyn says the city is constantly improving the service, recently adding a bus tracking app so riders can tell where the buses are any time.
http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?nid=1269
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Fund Setup for Hammond Family Devastated by Fire

First Midwest bank logo
Kevin Margraf, Assistant Fire Chief for the Hammond Fire Department says a fund has been established at First Midwest Bank for the family devastated by the fire. 
 
While the manner of death is still pending, the Lake County Coroner's office listed the cause of death as burns to the body that took the lives of 7 month-old Jayden young, 4 year-old Dasani Young and 3 year-old Alexia Young. 
 
Hammond Chief Fire Inspector says that the father of the three children, 27 year-old Andre Young, who reportedly suffered third-degree burns, will survive and the two children who were also hospitalized are expected to make a full recovery. 
 
Donations for the Young family can be made at any branch of First Midwest Bank, according to the article:  http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/official-inspection-might-have-prevented-tragic-hammond-fire/article_e4860fd8-1173-5a36-a6ac-0493e17d2002.html
  ...
 

Governor to Deliver 2014 State of the State

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence is scheduled to deliver his 2014 State of the State address in front of a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly on Tuesday, January 14th.   The expected 30-minute speech is to be delivered in the House Chambers at 7 p.m. Eastern.

(photo: provided)...

 

Officials say Tragic Fire Might not have Occurred

 Hammond Fire


While propane fueled space heaters are the suspected cause of the Hammond home fire that took the lives of three young children in the 600 block of Sibley St. last Wednesday night, city officials now say a home inspection might have kept it from happening. 
 
City Attorney Kristina Kantar is quoted in the Times as saying residences must have basic utilities to be considered fit for habitation. NIPCO reports that gas and electricity service was disconnected in the spring due to nonpayment. Kantar says the home's landlord has not allowed the city to inspect the building, and had it been inspected, the residence would most likely have been declared uninhabitable therefore preventing the tragic blaze.
Read more about this story at:  http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/official-inspection-might-have-prevented-tragic-hammond-fire/article_e4860fd8-1173-5a36-a6ac-0493e17d2002.html


(Photo: courtesy of Karl Berner)
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30th Consecutive Month of Growth in NWI Home Sales

GNIAR logo
December 2013 marked the 30th consecutive month of growth in year-over-year comparisons for home sales in northwest Indiana. The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors reports just over a 12-percent increase in December 2013 over December 2012. Year end totals for total units sold in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties combined were nine-thousand-447, with a median selling price of 130-thousand dollars. ...
 

NDIN Collects Over $15 Million in FY 2013

US Attorney David Capp announced today that the Northern District of Indiana collected over 15-million dollars in Fiscal Year 2013, which came from civil and criminal collections as the result of efforts by the US Attorney's Office and other components of the Department of Justice.
In addition to the 15-million in collections the Northern District of Indiana, working with its federal law enforcement partners, collected another six-point-eight million in asset forfeiture actions in Fiscal year 2013. Forfeited assets are deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and are distributed to local police departments to supplement local law enforcement efforts. ...
 

Snow Removal Parking Restrictions Lifted in MC

Traffic-Alert
In Michigan City, the snow removal parking restrictions that were set in place on Saturday have been lifted as of 4:30 this afternoon. Officials report normal parking rules and regulations are back in effect and Mayor Ron Meer wants to thank the citizens of Michigan City for their help and cooperation during the snow removal process. ...

 

Prevent Localized Flooding, Clear Snow from Storm Drains

DHS Logo
Temperatures in northwest Indiana have increased and with the chance of rain this weekend brings the chance of minor street and localized flooding. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says, at this time, forecasts do not predict the significant flooding that some parts of the state experienced last month, but some localized flooding, especially in low lying areas, may occur this weekend. A flood warning for the Kankakee River at Shelby has been issued from Saturday morning until further notice.
Residents can help prevent street flooding by making sure storm drains are not blocked by snow or debris.  
If you live near bodies of water (ponds, rivers, streams, etc.)

·         Be aware that water levels can change rapidly and flooding can begin with little or no warning.
·         Monitor local weather and river forecasts and keep an eye on any waterways along roads near your residence.
·         Consider evacuating in advance of flooding if you think rising water may cut off your access routes to and from home.
On the road
·         Never attempt to cross a flooded road, even if it seems shallow. Water can conceal dips, or worse, flood waters can damage roadways, washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground.
·         Do not drive around barricades at water crossings. They are there to protect the public. Disregarding warning signs and attempting to cross flooded roads endangers everyone in the vehicle as well as the first responders who may need to come to the aid of those that are stranded.
·         Remember, just a few inches of moving water is enough to carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-up trucks.
·         Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize high water danger.

For more flood safety tips, visit GetPrepared.in.gov....
 

Hammond Fire Update: Father to Survive, Kids Doing Well

hammond house fire 1
(Photo Courtesy of Karl Berner)
An investigation continues into a house fire in Hammond Wednesday night in the 600 block of Sibley Street that left three young children dead and three others injured. Hammond Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says they got word today that the 28 year old father, who was able to save the two other children in the home and reportedly had suffered third-degree burns, will survive and the two children who were also hospitalized are doing well.
A preliminary investigation points to two space heaters being a factor in the fire. Hammond Chief Fire Inspector, Michael Opinker told the Region News Team on Thursday that at least one space heater was connected to a propane tank and was being used to heat the lower level of the home, which had no electricity or gas. ...
 

Hammond FD Recipient of FEMA SAFER Grant

donnelly
Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly today announced that the Hammond Fire Department is one of three in the state to receive FEMA's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grants. According to the press release, the Hammond Fire Department will receive 965-thousand dollars. Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says they are very grateful to be awarded a grant of this magnitude.
Donnelly said, “Indiana’s firemen and women are some of the bravest and hardest working members of our community. I am proud to see these departments receive the federal support they need. This grant money will help them serve their communities much more safely and efficiently by allowing them to hire additional fire fighters. These men and women put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve our support.”
The SAFER grant program was created to increase the number of trained fire fighters available to communities in need. More information about these competitive grants can be found at  http://www.fema.gov/staffing-adequate-fire-emergency-response-grants.
For more information on how Senator Donnelly’s office can assist groups applying for federal grants, please visit  http://www.donnelly.senate.gov/help/grants....
   

Car Fire in Valpo Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Car Fire at Wal-Mart re
Fire crews from the Valparaiso Fire Department are on the scene of a car fire that was first reported around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart located at 2400 Morthland Dr. No one was reported inside the vehicle at the time of the fire. 
Traffic tipsters reported that black smoke from the fire could been seen from some distance and attracted a lot of curious on- lookers.

(photo/Radio One Communications)
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Jackknifed Semi Blocking Left Lanes NB I-65

01-10-14  Jackknifed semi I-65
Crews are on the scene of a crash reportedly involving a pick up truck and a jackknifed semi truck in Merrillville. INDOT is reporting that the two left lanes northbound I-65 are blocked at this time between 101st Avenue and US 30. 
 
Tipsters are reporting traffic backed up to US 231 the Crown Point exit with a gapers slowdown SB I-65 from US-30.  
 
Drivers should seek an alternate route including US231 to State Rd. 55/Broadway or 109th Avenue to Colorado Street to US30 back to I-65, or 109th Avenue to Broadway to US30 back to I-65.

(photo/INDOT)
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Semi Hits Car on State Road 2 West, Flees the Scene

LaPorte PD
Police in LaPorte are investigating a hit-and-run accident involving a car and semi that occurred just after 5pm Thursday in the 13-hundred block of State Road 2 West. LaPorte Police say the victim informed officers he was driving west on State Road 2, in the outside lane, with a semi traveling next to him on the inside lane, when as they neared the entrance to Kabelin's Ace Hardware the semi allegedly started to make a right turn into his path of travel and the trailer struck the front driver's side of his vehicle. Police report the impact sent the victim's vehicle into a snow bank and that the semi continued into the lot of Ace Hardware and then left the scene. No injuries were reported and anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact the LaPorte Police Department at 362-9446 and you can remain anonymous.  ...
   

Highway Avenue in Highland Reopened to Motorists

Highland PD
The 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue in Highland, from Kennedy Avenue to 4th Street has been reopened to motorists this afternoon after heavy snow accumulated on the front canopy of Bibles for Missions, causing the canopy and the front facade of the storefront to collapse on the sidewalk in front of the building. Highland Police Commander George Georgeff says pedestrian traffic on the north side of the 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue have been blocked off in front of those businesses.
Commander Georgeff says they have made contact with some other building owners who are now in the process of removing snow from the canopies in front of their businesses. He also recommends anyone with a flat roof in Lake County should consider addressing any large amounts of snow as the rain could add weight and compromise buildings that are not structurally sound. The incident occurred around 10am this morning....
   

Heavy Snow Causes Structural Collapse in Highland

Highland Police say due to a major structural collapse this morning at 2821 Highway Avenue, Bibles for Missions, the 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue from Kennedy Avenue to 4th Street will be closed.  Police say initial indications are that heavy snow accumulating on the front canopy of the building caused the canopy and front facade to collapse.  There were no injuries reported due to the collapse, authorities say.  The Highland Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works Department have responded to the scene....
   

Many Provide Help During Winter Storm

Region residents have been reaching out to express their thanks to the many, many in northwest Indiana who spent long hours helping others, making repairs, plowing roads, coming to rescues, getting to their jobs as police officers, fire crews, doctors, nurses, emergency responders, veterinarians, utility workers, and more during the winter storm and the 'polar vortex' that moved in afterwards. Here's an email we received we wanted to pass along... "My mom was locked out of her apartment on Sunday. I could not get there so we called the Valparaiso police department and they came to the rescue!! They came to my house to get my keys and brought them to her. In the confusion I did not get the officers name but both my mom and I would like to give him a big thank you!!! Sincerely, Lorna" ...
   

New Lake Central HS Academic Wing Opens

In St. John, a delayed introduction to the new three-story classroom addition at Lake Central High School. After Christmas break, school was out a couple days due to the winter storm. The school district is scheduled to host an open house for the community February 9. The school corporation broke ground in August 2012 for extensive renovations at the high school. Officials said construction would be completed in phases so the existing high school could continue to function, with new sections being built and old ones demolished over a three-year period until the work is completed in 2015.  Together with replacing Protsman Elementary School, the district is investing 160- million dollars to enlarge and update school facilities, funded by bonds approved by taxpayers in a referendum in November 2011. School officials said the high school renovation was prompted by aging infrastructure in the 1964 core of the building and overcrowding due to dramatic enrollment growth. In 2011, they say twenty teachers taught in portable classrooms....
   

Mechanical Problems Delay South Shore

Mechanical problems were delaying the South Shore commute for some riders up to an hour this morning.  For updates from Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD): www.nictd.com...
   

AUDIO: Polar Vortex Effect on Region Fruit Trees

The so-called Polar Vortex that just exited the Region will likely have an effect this year's fruit crops in Indiana, says Lake County Purdue Extension Educator Nikky Witkowski, who spoke to our Jay Stevens.  Most apple and pear trees in the Region are able to endure a zone five winter even with this season's below zero temperatures, but Witkowski says peach trees are less tolerant. There are also differences between the different varieties.  Witkowski also says the majority of the Region's blackberry and blueberry plants should be okay as the ample snow cover can actually insulate plants from the cold temperatures. Witkowski also says there are steps that can be taken once the warmer weather arrives. To hear the interview visit News Audio on Demand here at our website....
   

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