Louisville wastewater shows a surge of flu virus, signaling Ky. flu season is here; shots recommended for all six months and older

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The state Department for Public Health‘s weekly respiratory virus update, released Thursday, Nov. 9, shows that Covid-19 activity is moderate and influenza activity is low, but increasing. And while hospitalizations for Covid-19 and flu remain low, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) hospitalizations in children continue to increase.

This report comes as Louisville public-health officials are urging residents to get their flu shots, saying that the city’s wastewater surveillance system has detected a surge in influenza virus – which means that flu season is right around the corner, reports Jess Clark of Louisville Public Media.

Researchers at the University of Louisville told Clark that their wastewater monitoring system has detected a redoubling of influenza virus concentration in recent weeks.

“That’s a sign that flu season is almost here,” Dr. Kris Bryant, associate medical director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, told Clark. “And if people have not yet had their flu shot, now is the time. Make an appointment today to get a flu shot before flu really starts circulating in our community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.

The state report shows that emergency department visits for respiratory illness in Kentucky have increased weekly since early October, reaching a high of 2,115 in the week ended Oct. 29. Of those, 891 visits were for Covid-19, 885 were for flu and 339 were for RSV.

Hospitalizations for respiratory illness in Kentucky stayed about the same as the previous week, increasing by three to 296 in the week ended Oct. 29. Of those, 192 were for Covid-19, 53 were for flu and 53 were for RSV.

Among children, emergency-department visits increased to 965 in the week ended Oct. 29, up from 748 the week prior. Of those, 513 were related to flu, up from 414 the prior week; 302 were related to RSV, up from 185 the prior week; and 150 were related to Covid-19, up one from the prior week.

Hospitalizations for respiratory illness among children increased slightly from the prior week, to 60. Of those, 45 were for RSV, 13 for flu and two for Covid-19.

In the week ended Oct. 29, Kentucky reported 2,414 laboratory-confirmed tests for Covid-19, up from 2,312 in the prior report; and 169 positive laboratory tests for the flu, the same as the week prior.

No additional deaths were reported in this week’s report.

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