Kentucky Reaches 100 Flu Related Deaths

FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky's Department for Public Health says that 100 flu-related deaths have been reported from the epidemic in Kentucky.

The KDPH says that at least four of the reported deaths have been pediatric cases.

They say that Kentucky is in its seventh consecutive week of widespread flu activity, which is the highest level of flu activity.

During the 2016-17 flu season, Kentucky only recorded 76 deaths.The flu season runs through late May.

KDPH wants to remind people that 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 people as well.

The most common flu type in Kentucky right now is influenza A.

“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,” said 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 after you get the vaccine for you develop protection from the flu.

The KDPH says that vaccinations are available at Kentucky’s local health departments, pharmacies, and medical providers. Many health plans cover the cost of the vaccine with no copay.

The flu can be highly contagious and cause potentially life-threatening disease. Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.

The influenza virus can also directly infect the heart and can cause severe and potentially fatal acute changes in the heart’s rhythm and function.

Persons at high-risk include:

  • Children younger than five-years-old (but especially children younger than two-years-old)
  • Adults, 65-years-old and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other longer term facilities
  • Persons with chronic illnesses
    • Asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses
    • Neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
    • Heart disease
    • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney and liver disorders
    • Weakened immune system due to disease like cancer or medications
    • Persons younger than 19 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
    • People with extreme obesity (body mass index of 40 or more)

KDPH officials report weekly to the CDC national flu surveillance system. The weekly report is now available online at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/Influenza.htm and is updated each Friday before noon.


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