LEXINGTON, Ky. (1/10/14)—Residents should take extra precautions to protect their families from the flu as students resume school early this month and people return to their offices after holiday vacations.
“Generally, anytime school is in session it is so much easier for illnesses to be transmitted,” said Kevin Hall, communications officer for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. “That is true for any enclosed environment with shared equipment.”
There were 14 confirmed cases of the flu in Fayette County as of Jan. 10, according to the health department. However, there may be more cases of the flu in the county that have not been documented.
“There have been 14 cases that have been sent off to the lab, tested and confirmed to be the flu,” said Hall. “That does not mean there were only 14 cases.”
Hall said many doctors do rapid flu tests or do not test at all and treat patients based on their symptoms.
Residents are encouraged to get the flu shot if they haven’t already. Peak flu season in Kentucky is not until late January or early February, according to Hall. The flu season can begin as early as October, which is when Kentucky reported its first cases this year, and last through May.
It takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective. Influenza strains currently circulating most widely in Kentucky appear to be covered by this season's vaccine, according to officials.
Healthy, non-pregnant people age 2-49 years can be vaccinated with either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray. An intradermal influenza vaccination uses a smaller needle and can be given to adults 18 through 64 years of age. Children younger than 9 years old who did not receive a flu vaccination during the last flu season should receive a second dose four or more weeks after their first vaccination.
Regular hand washing for 30 seconds with soap and water can help stop the spread of the flu. People experiencing flu symptoms should stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.
“We always say remember the stuff your grandmother taught you when you were little,” said Hall. “Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.”
Approximately 23,000 deaths due to seasonal flu and its complications occur on average each year in the U.S., according to recently updated estimates from the CDC. However, actual numbers of deaths vary from year to year.
For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department at (859) 252-2371.
Lead News Reporter
Information provided by Kevin Hall and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
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