By: Zack Raney, MPH, CHES, Epidemiology Manager
Flu monitoring for the 2018-2019 season began on Oct. 1. Through February 16, 2019, a total of 3,353 cases of flu have been reported in Northern Kentucky. Updates on the NKY Health Department’s four-county district can be found on the NKY Health website here. The flu activity level is submitted by the Department for Public Health (DPH) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly as part of the national flu surveillance system. During the flu season, this flu activity level web page from the DPH is updated each Tuesday if there is a change from the previous week. Data is available for all 17 regions of Kentucky as well as nationwide data.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, a total of 6,500 cases of flu were reported in Northern Kentucky. Additionally, 30 deaths were reported, all in adults with risk factors that made them more susceptible to complications from flu. According to the CDC, more than 900,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 80,000 flu-related deaths occurred in the US during the 2017-2018 flu season.
The CDC reports flu season occurs in the fall and winter in the United States. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May. The overall health impact (e.g., infections, hospitalizations, and deaths) of a flu season varies from season to season. The Weekly U.S. Influenza Summary Update is updated each week from October through May. It is vital to continue to protect ourselves by practicing proven prevention methods, and the best protection against influenza is the vaccine. I know you’ve heard that before, but we keep pressing the point because it’s true! The vaccine can help prevent the flu altogether and even if you have the flu after vaccination, your symptoms can be less severe. That means you could need fewer sick days and you could prevent hospitalization or other severe complications. If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, it is not too late! Cases continue to come in every day and flu season is not over yet. There’s no time like the present to get vaccinated.