Ky. flu cases creep up for the third week in a row; nine more Kentuckians have died from flu; it’s not too late to get a flu shot

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Kentucky Health News

Amid all the headlines about the novel coronavirus, health experts warn that there is a much more prevalent and potentially deadly virus killing people in Kentucky: influenza. Through the week ended Feb. 8, Kentucky had reported 17,203 cases of flu this season, with 50 deaths from it, four of them people under 18, according to the state Department for Public Health.

In an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Dr. Brent Wright, president of the Kentucky Medical Association, and Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, reminded Kentuckians that it’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect themselves from the virus.

They also noted that even if you get the flu, the vaccine helps decrease your symptoms. The annual shot is recommended for all over 6 months of age. They offered some practical advice to protect yourself and others:

“If you think you have the flu, consult with your physician as soon as possible, as there are antiviral medications available that can help. The flu is spread mainly through tiny air droplets, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough and avoid contact with others while you are sick.”

The week ended Feb. 8 was the third in a row that flu cases have inched up in Kentucky, after dropping for three weeks in January.

The latest weekly report shows that Kentucky counted 2,101 new cases, a slight increase from the 1,815 reported the previous week and the 1,739 the week before that. The actual number of cases is higher because not all flu cases are counted; flu does not have to be reported, and five counties did not contribute to the latest report.

The state saw nine more deaths from the flu in the week ended Feb. 8; one victim was under 18. That brought the season total to 50.

Last year at this time, there were 9,263 cases of the flu reported in Kentucky and 25 deaths from it, including one under the age of 18.

Hotspots continue around the state, and while Perry County saw a bit of a reprieve in the Feb. 1 report, its numbers jumped up again during the week ended Feb. 8. It saw 76 new cases, for a total of 900. Pike and Barren counties continue to be hit hard; Pike added 152 new cases, for a total of 960; Barren added 188, for a total of 927. Bullitt County has added more than 100 cases at least two weeks in a row; most recently it added 105, for a total of 754.

Other hotspots: Allen added 39, for a total of 301; Garrard added 41, for a total of 120; Greenup added 59, for a total of 211; Hardin added 67, for a total of 221; Hart added 30, for a total of 179; Knott added 35, for a total of 267; Knox added 38, for a total of 85; Leslie added 39, for a total of 330; and Warren added 56, for a total of 640.

MMWR = Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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