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With Widespread Flu, Steps Encouraged to Prevent Transmission

January 24, 2018

It’s been an active flu season thus far in Northern Kentucky, with 2,729 cases reported to the Northern Kentucky Health Department through Jan. 20. Additionally, eight deaths have been recorded, all in adults. Flu activity is elevated throughout the U.S. as well, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help protect your family from flu and its serious complications, the Health Department recommends the following steps:

  • Get vaccinated—it is not too late. An annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older is the first and best way to protect against influenza. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best tool currently at our disposal to prevent the flu. If you are vaccinated and get the flu, it can still offer protection. Those who are vaccinated and become ill are less likely to be hospitalized and the illness may not last as long.
  • If you are ill with flu symptoms, including fever, headache and fatigue, contact your health care provider. He/she may prescribe anti-viral medications, which can also help shorten the severity and duration of flu for those who are infected.
  • Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs that can cause respiratory illness like the flu. These include:
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Stay home from work, school and errands when you or a family member is sick with flu. Keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth because germs spread this way.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“Influenza can be particularly risky for certain groups, including older adults and other individuals in long-term care facilities,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “If you or someone in your household has been ill with flu-like symptoms, including fever and cough, please do NOT visit family and friends in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals or other health care facilities. Individuals who work in such facilities should also be sure to stay home when sick. We have already seen several outbreaks of flu in these types of facilities, and we need to take steps to prevent additional outbreaks.”

During the 2016-2017 flu season, a total of 157 cases of flu had been reported through mid January; however, activity last flu season peaked late, in mid-March. National experts are comparing current activity to the 2014-2015 flu season. In Northern Kentucky, that flu season saw its peak in late December, and more than 3,000 cases had been reported by mid-January.

“The most predictable thing about flu is that it’s unpredictable,” said Saddler. “It’s not possible to say in advance precisely when the 2017-2018 flu season will peak or end, how severe it will be, or what viruses will circulate over the course of the flu season. Thus, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and those you care about.”

For more information on flu, please visit https://nkyhealth.org/individual-or-family/health-alerts/flu/.