By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
After three weeks of increases in influenza cases across the state, reported cases took a steep dive during Christmas week.
The latest weekly report from the state Department for Public Health shows that in the week ended Dec. 25, Kentucky counted 290 new flu cases. That was much fewer than the prior week, when the state reported 618 cases.
These numbers could be influenced by delayed reporting during the holiday week. It’s also important to remember that flu cases are likely more numerous than the official state numbers because they do not include any rapid testing, which many health-care providers use in their offices.
The state has recorded 1,603 cases this season. No flu-related deaths have been reported this year.
The majority of laboratory-confirmed flu cases have been in people between 1 and 30, with the highest rate among those 11 to 20.
There is still time to get a flu vaccine. Click here to find a location that offers them near you.
Health officials encourage everyone six months and older to get a flu shot every year, because it’s your best defense in fighting influenza. Flu season typically peaks in February, but runs through May.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination, with selected scientific studies that establish those benefits. For example, getting a flu shot not only can keep you from getting influenza, but can mean that any case you do get will be less severe.
The shot can also reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations; is a preventive tool for certain chronic health conditions; significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from the flu; protects pregnant women from getting the flu; and helps protect their babies from flu for several months after birth.
Jefferson County, the state’s most populous, again had the most cases, reporting 66 in the week ending Dec. 18. Other counties with the highest number of cases that week were Allen, 44; Pike, 43; Fayette, 29; Warren, 20; Kenton, 14; and Graves, 10.
Kentucky’s influenza level is considered to be widespread, a classification that is applied when increases in flu cases have been confirmed in at least half of the state’s 16 regions.