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Flu Deaths in Kentucky Reach 100, Including 4 Children

One hundred flu-related deaths have been reported in Kentucky.

The Department for Public Health, which is part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, confirmed the count. Four of those deaths have been children

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 Kentuckians as well, the department said.

In Northern Kentucky, through January 27, there have been ten deaths reported, all in adults. The region has reported 3,442 flu cases.

Kentucky is in its seventh consecutive week of widespread flu activity which is the highest level of flu activity and indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state. The flu season runs through late May. During the 2016-17 flu season, Kentucky recorded 76 deaths.

“Tragically, the influenza virus has claimed the lives of 100 Kentuckians so far this season,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard, acting Department for Public Health Commissioner. “During this time of widespread flu activity, we want to remind people to avoid contact with others if you have influenza or an influenza-like illness. If you are sick, seek care from your healthcare provider early. Lastly, take appropriate measures to protect yourself such as washing your hands with soap and water.”

The most common flu type identified in Kentucky at this time is influenza A. A healthy person with influenza also will usually miss three to five days of work, school, or other usual activities, and sometimes may miss seven to ten days.

“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 following the administration of the vaccine for the recipient to develop protection from the flu. There are ample supplies available throughout the state. 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. Individuals who develop flu symptoms should seek medical advice to determine if they should be treated with an antiviral drug, which could shorten the course of the illness or reduce its severity. 

“Recently the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued a health advisory recommending antiviral treatment to all hospitalized and high-risk persons with suspected influenza and that benefits of antiviral medications are observed even when treatment is initiated beyond two days of illness onset,” said Dr. Ballard.

​-Staff report

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