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Flu widespread in commonwealth

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By Nick Schrager

It’s that time of year again - it’s flu season.
According to a press release from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the flu is now considered widespread in the commonwealth, though no cases in Washington County have been confirmed.

“The Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), now reports ‘widespread’ flu activity in Kentucky for the first time this flu season. Widespread is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu cases or flu outbreaks in at least half of the Commonwealth’s regions.”

The department said the number of cases in Kentucky has reached 1,457 as of press time, compared to 1,411 around the same time last year.
“One of the hardest hit areas currently is Louisville Metro, which has confirmed more than 550 cases recently. Overall, approximately 882 cases have been confirmed in Louisville Metro this flu season, which is up from just 179 cases confirmed at the same time in the previous flu season,” the press release said. “Four adult deaths and one pediatric death have now been linked to the flu in Kentucky this flu season. At this time in the last flu season Kentucky had 12 flu-related deaths, all adults. During the entire flu season there were 333 flu-related deaths in Kentucky last year, five of which were pediatric.”  

According to Lisa Thorn, the communicable disease manager of the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, there have only been four confirmed cases in the region so far. None of which are in Washington County.
Three of those cases were in Hardin County and one located in Meade County.

But that doesn’t mean to let your guard down.
“However, there have been many flu like symptoms reported but not confirmatory reports other than the four,” Thorn said.

There are three types of the influenza virus, types A, B, and C.
“Influenza A seems to be the most prevalent so far this year,” Thorn said.
When it comes to creating vaccines for the any given season, Thorn said the Center for Disease Control looks and previous season trends.

 

“The CDC looks at the previous years to decide what type of components for the flu vaccine,” Thorn said. “For the 2018-2019 flu season, there is a trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component) vaccine that are being given.  The types of flu in those are A/Michigan (H1N1), A/Singapore (H3N2), B/Colorado and the 4th component for the Quadrivalent is B/Phuket. We won’t know if the flu vaccine is effective until season is nearing the end.”
And getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent from getting sick.
“[The] best prevention to protect yourself from getting the flu is to get vaccinated,” Thorn said. “You can help from spreading the flu by staying at home if you are sick, avoid contact with someone who has the flu or if you are sick, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and wash hands.”

Signs and symptoms of the flu include: sudden onset of fever accompanied with chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and non-productive cough.
“Also, a person may exhibit with sore throat and nasal congestion,” Thorn said.

There are ways to help fight the flu, if you catch it early enough.
“There are antiviral drugs which are prescribed by a physician that can help with the symptoms,” she said. “These need to be given within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Rest, and drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration).”

It’s a good idea to contact your healthcare provider if you believe you have the flu.
“If you get sick with flu symptoms, are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, talk to your healthcare provider,” Thorn said.

She added this time of year is the peak of the season.
“Flu season usually begins in October/November,” Thorn said, “ [It] peaks between December and February and can last as late as May. With the flu vaccine, it does take about two weeks for the antibodies that provide protection to develop in the body after getting vaccinated.”