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Flu activity in Kentucky now seen as ‘widespread’

January 5, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Flu activity in Kentucky is being reported as “widespread” for the first time this flu season, the state Department for Public Health announced Friday.

Widespread is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu cases or flu outbreaks in at least half of Kentucky’s regions.

“We strongly encourage 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 get a flu shot,” said Dr. Jeff Howard, commissioner of DPH.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.

DPH reports weekly influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which lists flu activity in neighboring states as being low in Ohio and minimal in West Virginia.

Kentucky currently is reporting 1,457 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu, and notes that rapid positive influenza tests are not included in this report, but are used as an indicator of flu-like illness circulating across the state.

One of Kentucky’s hardest hit areas is Louisville Metro, which has confirmed more than 550 cases recently, according to DPH. Four adult deaths and one pediatric death have now been linked to the flu in Kentucky this flu season.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Among those who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine due to higher risk are children, women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season, those 50 or older, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and health care workers.

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine, including FluMist nasal spray, are available, and vaccinations can be given any time during the flu season, though the sooner, the better.

The CDC says flu activity historically peaks in February in the United States, though different seasons have different peaks and the flu virus actually circulates year-round.

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