Flu ‘widespread’ throughout Ky., health officials say

FRANKFORT (KT) — State health officials Friday reported “widespread” flu in Kentucky for the first time this flu season.

The Department of Public Health, within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, says this is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.

The traditional flu season lasts from October through May, but Increased flu activity began earlier this season than usual in Kentucky. Due to the early increased activity this year, both in Kentucky and nationally, increased flu activity is anticipated to continue for several months.

“The Department for Public Health is strongly urging anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine,” said Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting DPH Commissioner, “particularly children six months and older, and those people at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers about getting the vaccine.”

Health officials say flu can be very contagious. Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Persons who develop flu symptoms should seek medical advice about the need for a medical evaluation or treatment with an antiviral drug, which could shorten the course of the illness or reduce its severity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some tips to stay healthy and stop the spread of germs:

· Try to avoid contact with sick people.

· While sick, avoid contact with others as much as possible, to keep from infecting them.

· If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks, except to get medical care or other necessities.

· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, since germs spread that way.

· Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Young children, the elderly, and those who have chronic disease are especially vulnerable to the flu’s more severe consequences. 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. Kentuckians are advised to call before arriving for a vaccination.