shot needle 300HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (1/11/14) ― A Hopkins County woman is the first flu-related death in western Kentucky. The middle aged woman died last week of flu-related symptoms.

While an average of 23,000 deaths occur as a result of seasonal flu and complications annually across the U.S., most of the victims have other illnesses present that affects their abilities to survive severe flu symptoms.

According to a story in SurfKY News' media partner WEHT Channel 25, Hopkins County Coroner Dennis Mayfield said the woman, who died last week, wasn't be treated for other illnesses at the time of her death.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention , flu activity increased in the past week, and widespread activity's been reported in 35 states including Kentucky. 

CDC officials say more than 60 percent of cases are affecting those between the ages of 18 and 64.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health officials reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week that the influenza activity level in the state has increased from regional to widespread. Widespread activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state. The activity levels for states are tracked weekly as part of the CDC's national flu surveillance system.

"With current widespread flu activity being reported in Kentucky and across much of the nation, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated for flu," said Stephanie Mayfield, M.D., commissioner of DPH. "We are strongly urging anyone who hasn't received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with their health care provider, local health department or pharmacy about vaccine availability."

The flu season can begin as early as October, which is when Kentucky reported its first cases this year, and last through May. January is still a good time to get vaccinated against the flu because peak activity often comes in the early months of the year. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season, and there is a plentiful vaccine supply this season. Since it takes approximately two weeks for vaccine to become fully effective, Kentuckians should not delay vaccination, Dr. Mayfield said.

During the current flu season, CDC has received a number of reports of severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults infected with the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic strain, which first emerged in 2009.

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.

For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director

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