FRANKFORT, Ky. (November 30, 2004) - A Northern Kentucky lab reported the first positive influenza culture to the Department for Public Health this week, indicating the presence of flu in the state.
The Department for Public Health reported the results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts. Kentucky’s flu activity is currently classified as "sporadic," the lowest level indicating flu activity. The flu season can begin as early as October and last through April. Most other states are also reporting sporadic activity. Surveillance efforts serve as a tracking system to follow the patterns and types of flu each year; they are not meant to reflect a full count of all flu cases.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. William Hacker said, "Speaking as a physician, I’d like to remind people that there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent flu and other illnesses that normally circulate at this time of year. You should follow the advice your mother gave you - wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and staying home when you’re sick - in order to stay healthy."
Dr. Hacker also urged those in the groups at high risk for complications related to the flu that have not received vaccine to check with local health departments or other providers. "Although slow in coming, additional shipments of flu vaccine are still arriving at some local health departments and health providers’ offices, so high risk people should continue to try to get their flu shot as soon as vaccine becomes available," said Dr. Hacker.
The group of people at the highest risk for flu complications includes: all children ages 6 - 23 months, adults 65 and older; persons age 2 - 64 with chronic medical conditions, women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, children 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy, health care workers involved in direct patient care, and out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months old.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine is an acceptable alternative to the flu shot for healthy persons ages 5-49.
For more information about the flu, see the CDC’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvirus.htm>, which will also be keeping a weekly map of flu activity reported across the nation at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivity.htm <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/weekly.htm>.