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Flu Turns Severe as Cases Linger in Northern Kentucky

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 2012-2013 flu season has been an unusual one, and the latest trend is cause for concern: The Northern Kentucky Health Department has noticed that recent cases have increased in severity. Since early March, three additional people have died and more people are requiring hospitalization for flu. One in four, or 25 percent, of the flu cases reported in the week ending March 23 required hospitalization—a number that is much higher than normal.

“Fighting the flu puts a strain on the body,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “Most healthy people are able to handle that strain, but for someone who is elderly or has an underlying medical condition, the flu can lead to serious—and sometimes fatal—complications. Many people who die from flu get very ill, very quickly.”

A total of five flu deaths have been reported to the Health Department, with two of those reported previously. The three recent deaths were in a Campbell County female, a Boone County male and a Campbell County male. At the time of their deaths, all three had other medical complications besides flu. The Health Department continues to investigate all three cases.

The five deaths represent only those voluntarily reported to the Health Department. Because adult flu deaths are not required to be reported, it is possible that more Northern Kentucky adults have died from flu this year. Pediatric flu deaths are required to be reported, and none have occurred in Northern Kentucky this season.
           
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a total of 105 children have died from flu through March 16. Though it doesn’t track adult flu deaths nationwide, the CDC estimated 7.6 percent of all adult deaths were attributable to flu or pneumonia (a common complication of flu) for the week ending March 16.

For the 2012-2013 flu season, a total of 3,132 cases of flu have been reported to the Health Department, with 105 of those in the week ending March 23.

“People who have another health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma, and develop symptoms of the flu should contact a health care provider right away. It’s important for flu to be monitored closely in these individuals,” said Saddler.

In most instances, flu can be treated at home with fever-reducing medication, rest and liquids. Certain symptoms signal a more serious infection and require immediate attention. In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

“Everyone can help prevent the spread of flu,” said Saddler. “Be sure to wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face with your hands, and most importantly, if you are ill, please stay home.”

For more information on flu, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/seasonalflu.

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Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or Emily.Gresham-Wherle@nkyhealth.org, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

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For statewide news releases, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.