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Kentucky Flu Activity Level Raised to Widespread

Kentucky Flu Activity Level Raised to Widespread

Bill Stephens, Web Editor

January 4th, 2019

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Public health urges vaccination and hand washing for Kentuckians

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 4, 2019) – The Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), now reports “widespread” flu activity in Kentucky for the first time this flu season. Widespread is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu cases or flu outbreaks in at least half of the Commonwealth’s regions.
“We strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly children six months and older and those people at high risk for complications related to the flu, to get a flu shot,” said Jeff Howard, M.D., commissioner of DPH. “Also remember to cover your cough and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs are spread this way. Be sure to frequently wash your hands with soap and water and stay home if you are sick with flu-like illness.”

DPH reports weekly influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The weekly report is located online at https://healthalerts.ky.gov/Pages/FluActivity.aspx and is updated each Friday by noon. 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. Rapid positive influenza tests are not included in this report, but are used as an indicator of flu-like illness circulating across the state.
The number of flu cases to date this season (1,457) 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. Overall, approximately 882 cases have been confirmed in Louisville Metro this flu season, which is up from just 179 cases confirmed at the same time in the previous flu season.

Four adult deaths and one pediatric death have now been linked to the flu in Kentucky this flu season. At this time in the last flu season Kentucky had twelve flu-related deaths, all adults. During the entire flu season there were 333 flu-related deaths in Kentucky last year, five of which were pediatric.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older. 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 six months through 59 months;
∙ Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
∙ Persons 50 years of age or older;
∙ Persons with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater);
∙ Persons aged six 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 aged ≤59 months
(i.e., aged

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