Kentucky in midst of a flu epidemic

01/24/2018 05:22 PM

FRANKFORT- The Department for Public Health is now describing the flu activity in Kentucky as an epidemic. This season’s strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, for even generally healthy Kentuckians.

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 outbreaks in at least half of the other regions in the state.

“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.”

Seventy-eight percent of the 65 influenza-associated deaths this season are from influenza A. Seven percent of the deaths this year were of healthy individuals with no reported risk factors for severe illness.

“Pneumonia, bacterial bloodstream infections, and sepsis are examples of serious influenza-related complications that may require hospitalization and sometimes result in death of healthy people with no known risk factors for serious illness,” added Department for Public Health’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jonathan Ballard. “Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu. We especially recommend that all healthy Kentuckians aged six months and older be vaccinated. The flu season typically runs until late spring so it is not too late to get vaccinated.”

It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. Many health plans cover the cost of the vaccine with no copay.

Health officials invite the public to participate in a Facebook Live discussion about the flu on the CHFS Facebook page Thursday night at 6 p.m. eastern, 5 p.m. central. You can submit flu questions beforehand to: chfs.communications@ky.gov or post your question in the comments section during the event.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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