Flu cases hit a new high for the season in the state’s latest report; season runs through May, so shots can still protect your family

Kentucky Department for Public Health chart

The number of influenza cases confirmed in Kentucky hit the highest level of the season, by far, in the week ended Feb. 2, according to the latest surveillance report from the state Department for Public Health.

The department’s laboratory confirmed 1,876 cases that week, for a total of 7,285 in the season. All 17 health regions of the state have confirmed cases, and only one region did not confirm a case in the week that ended Feb. 2. Eleven regions reported increased influenza-like illnesses, and 12 reported increased flu activity, suggesting that a new season high may yet be recorded.

Two more flu deaths were reported in the week ending Feb. 2, raising the season total to 21. All but one have been over the age of 18, but among the department’s 10-year age groups, children under 10 had many more cases than any other group.

Flu is very contagious and is especially dangerous to small children, the elderly, and those who have chronic health conditions. It is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.

Persons who develop symptoms should contact their medical provider immediately to determine if they are a good candidate for treatment with an antiviral drug, which could shorten the course of the illness or reduce its severity.

Flu season runs through May, and immunization takes full effect about two weeks after vaccination, so officials urge those who haven’t been vaccinated to get a flu shot.

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