Flu now ‘widespread’ across Kentucky

It’s flu season in Kentucky, and the Clark County Health Department is urging folks to get their flu shot.

The Department for Public Health reports “widespread” flu activity in Kentucky for the first time this flu season.

According to a recent news release, widespread is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu cases or flu outbreaks in at least half the Commonwealth’s regions.

The number of cases rose quickly. About a month earlier, it was at a “minimum” level.

As of Jan. 3, Clark County has had 13 confirmed flu cases this 2018-19 season. Though this number does not include diagnoses from swab testing, said Jennifer Burchett, a nurse administrator at the Clark County Health Department.

The number of flu cases are rising, but so far, this year’s flu season is not as bad as last year’s, she said. The health department isn’t seeing as many people getting flu shots as people seem to be more concerned with hepatitis A.

“So many people are getting hepatitis A shot, but the chances of getting the flu are greater than getting hepatitis A,” Burchett said.

Kentucky currently is reporting 1,457 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu. The report consists of laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza that are defined by molecular virus testing and positive virus culture test results.

According to the most recent weekly report, the number of flu cases to date this season is about 1,457 cases which is comparable to the number of cases at the same time last season (1,411). One of the hardest hit areas currently is Louisville Metro, which has confirmed more than 550 cases recently.

Four adult deaths and one pediatric death have now been linked to the flu in Kentucky this flu season, according to the release.

Burchett said the flu season typically begins as early as September and can run until March. She said it’s important to wash your hands and not to risk spreading the flu if someone is experiencing flu-like symptoms, which means not going to work or school.

Flu symptoms can include pain in the muscles, dry or phlegm coughs, chills, dehydration, fatigue, fever, flushing, loss of appetite, body ache, sweating, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, chest pressure, head congestion, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, sore throat or swollen lymph nodes.

Burchett said it’s important that people with low immune systems, such as the elderly or young children, get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“There is plenty of vaccines out there,” she said. “There is no shortage.”

Burchett said the vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in. The health department offers vaccines for uninsured children from 6-months to 19, children on Medicaid, adults with insurance with Humana, Anthem (excluding Anthem UK) or United. The department also offers the high-dose for folks 65 and older.

“We want everyone to get vaccinated,” Burchett said.

Flu now ‘widespread’ across state