Flu season could come early

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) received reports of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases, indicating the presence of flu circulating in Kentucky. The cases are from Bullitt, Fayette and Jefferson counties.

Beginning in October, DPH officials will begin to report weekly influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts.

The flu season in Kentucky may be starting early this year, as the flu season typically begins in October or November.

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available for this year’s season. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season.

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening, and vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent illness. It’s also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid it,” said Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., commissioner of DPH. “You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick.”

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older. However, the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used because it has been shown to be ineffective. 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

• Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for complications from the flu; and

• Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and

emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions

who will have contact with patients.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Flu can be very contagious. For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.

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