Public Health Department Says More Than 100 People Have Died During the Current Flu Epidemic

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), says that the state just topped 100 flu-related deaths from the flu epidemic, with at least four of those being pediatric cases.

“Tragically, the influenza virus has claimed the lives of 100 Kentuckians so far this season,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard, Acting DPH commissioner. “During this time of widespread flu activity, we want to remind people to avoid contact with others if you have influenza or an influenza-like illness.  If you are sick, seek care from your healthcare provider early. Lastly, take appropriate measures to protect yourself such as washing your hands with soap and water.”

This season’s H3N2 strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well.

For more information, please click here. Also, Kentucky reports weekly to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national flu surveillance system. That report is online and is updated each Friday before noon.

 

Kentucky Health Officials Say that Flu Activity is an ‘Epidemic’ Around the State

The Kentucky Department for Public Health, within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), is now saying that influenza activity in Kentucky is an “epidemic,” meaning that this season’s strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well.

Kentucky is in its sixth consecutive week of widespread flu activity which is the highest level of flu activity and indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state, according to a news release.

“Widespread influenza activity means that Kentuckians are likely to encounter one or more persons shedding influenza virus at work, at school, while shopping, while traveling, at athletic or entertainment events, and in places of worship,” said the Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard. “A person who will develop influenza illness actually can transmit the virus to other persons beginning one day before their illness begins.”

Health officials are inviting the public to participate in a Facebook Live discussion about the flu on the CHFS Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kychfs/) at 6 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Central on Thursday, January 25. People can submit flu-related questions beforehand to chfs.communications@ky.gov or post their question in the comments section during the event.

For more information, including tips to help prevent the spread of the flu, please click here.

 

Kentucky officials raise flu level to ‘widespread’ for the state

Kentucky Unbridled Spirit logoThe Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), which is part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), has raised the flu level in the state from “regional” to “widespread,” which is the highest level of flu activity, indicating increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.

“With widespread flu activity reported in Kentucky, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot”, DPH Commissioner Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., said in a news release. “We urge anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older. However, the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used because it has been shown to be ineffective.

People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

  • Children age 6 months through 59 months
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
  • People age 50 or older
  • People with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater)
  • People age 6 months and older with chronic health problems
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children younger than age 5
  • Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for complications from the flu
  • Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions who will have contact with patients

“You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick,” concluded CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Gilsson.

For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.

 

The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot – before flu season starts

Insider Louisville LogoFor many of us, activity picks up dramatically in the fall. There’s the start of school, many work schedules are more demanding, and there are football games, outdoor concerts and parties to attend.

But nothing kills the thrill of those things than to come down with cold symptoms or the flu. Experts have a number of suggestions to ward off symptoms — including a sensible diet, regular exercise, getting the proper amount of sleep, washing your hands frequently and staying away from people who are sick.

But the fact is that every fall brings with it flu season. And the best way that experts say to do to avoid it is to get a flu shot — before flu season starts, according to this Passport-sponsored article in Insider Louisville.

Flu season in Kentucky typically begins in October or November and runs through May, but people might need to act quicker this year – state health officials said recently that there were already 10 confirmed cases of influenza already this year, in Jefferson, Bullitt, and Fayette counties.

There are many locations all around Kentucky where people can get a free flu shot, so check with your primary care physician or stop in at select retail locations such as select pharmacies and grocery stores.

 

Kentucky Health Department warns that flu is still widespread for 9th straight week

Get Your Flu shot Kentucky health officials say that the flu is continuing to rage across the state and is expected to continue to be a problem well into next month, according to an Associated Press article.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health sent out a health alert earlier this week, saying that flu activity in Kentucky was “widespread” for the ninth consecutive week, with flu-like activity or outbreaks having been reported in at least half of the state’s regions.

Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner of the Department for Public Health, recommended in a statement that people get the flu vaccine now if they haven’t already had it. The department says the vaccine is in good supply in the state and many health plans will pay for it.

“Even though flu season is running later than usual, Kentuckians can still protect themselves and their families by getting a flu shot,” Humbaugh said. “The Kentucky Department for Public Health is urging anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly children 6 months and older and those people at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with doctors’ offices, local health departments, pharmacies or other providers about getting the vaccine.”

 

State Health Officials Encourage Flu Vaccinations Now To Protect Against Severe Flu Illness

Kentucky Unbridled Spirit logoKentucky officials want to make sure that all residents know that even though flu season traditional starts in October, it can last through May, so residents who haven’t yet gotten their vaccination should still get one.

Flu vaccinations may be obtained at local health departments, healthcare provider offices, local clinics, and pharmacies. People should check for availability before they arrive, but overall flu vaccine supplies remain ample this season, according to a release from the state. Also, many health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine.

People should note that it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop and offer protection against the flu, which is why officials are urging residents to get vaccinated as early as possible.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends all individuals 6 months of age and older get the vaccine. People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

  • Children ages 6 months through 4 years
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 and older
  • People age 6 months and older with chronic health problems
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Health care workers, household contacts, and caregivers or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu
  • Out-of-home caregivers of children younger than 6 months old

For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit healthalerts.ky.gov.