Wednesday December 7, 2022
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Photo: CDC

Two more people in Louisville have died from the flu over the past two weeks. Both were elderly individuals with underlying medical conditions. This brings the number of flu deaths in Louisville this flu season to five.

Louisville had 600 laboratory confirmed flu cases last week, and 888 in the prior week. This compares to 522 and 429 laboratory confirmed flu cases respectively for the same two-week period last year.  Kentucky’s Department for Public Health is reporting widespread flu activity.  Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that key indicators that track flu activity declined slightly but remain high.  CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 deaths from flu

“Everyone age six months and older should get a flu shot,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief health strategist.  “If you’re sick, please see a healthcare provider right away. Antiviral medications may be a treatment option that can lessen your symptoms and shorten the time of your illness.”

People  who are at high risk of serious complications from flu include:

  • Children younger than 5, and especially children younger than two
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after baby’s birth
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term facilities
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems

“Many people can’t get a flu shot,” added Dr. Moyer.  “They may be younger than six months of age, be undergoing chemotherapy or have other health conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated.  When you get a flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself but you’re protecting others.”

Flu shots are available at physicians’ offices, pharmacies and at many grocery stores. The cost of flu shots is covered by most insurance plans, by Medicare and by Medicaid. To find a flu shot location near you click here.

Louisville has had two more flu deaths in elderly individuals with underlying medical conditions. One of the individuals was unvaccinated and the other’s vaccination status is unknown.

These deaths come a month after another unvaccinated elderly individual with underlying medical conditions died of the flu. Patient privacy laws do not allow for disclosure of other details about the individuals.

Louisville had 880 laboratory confirmed flu cases last week, and 886 in the prior week. This compares to 570 and 565 laboratory confirmed flu cases respectively for the same two-week period last year.  Kentucky’s Department for Public Health is reporting widespread flu activity.  Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu activity is high, continues to increase and has been elevated for eight weeks.  CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 6.4 million flu illnesses, 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from flu.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief health strategist.  “If you’re sick, please see a healthcare provider right away. Antiviral medications may be a treatment option that can lessen your symptoms and shorten the time you are sick.”

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths each year in the United States since 2010.  During that period there have been from 9 million to 45 million flu-related illnesses and between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations.

People  who are at high risk of serious complications from flu include:

  • Children younger than 5, and especially children younger than two
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after baby’s birth
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term facilities
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems

“We recommend anyone six months and older get a flu shot,” Moyer said. “But we especially recommend it for people in these high-risk groups.”

Flu shots are available at physicians’ offices, pharmacies and at many grocery stores. The cost of flu shots is covered by most insurance plans, by Medicare and by Medicaid.

Reports Of Flu Cases Rises

719 new cases of flu were reported last week (Jan. 27 – Feb 2). That’s a new high for this flu season.  The predominant strain continues to be type A which is covered in this year’s flu vaccine.  You can see more more detail on flu in Louisville by viewing our weekly influenza data briefs found HERE.

Learn more about the flu, the flu vaccine, what to do if you have the flu, and how to prevent the flue HERE.

High Number Of Flu Cases Reported

Photo: Centers of Disease Control

The week of January 20 – 26 yielded the highest number of confirmed cases reported in one week for this flu season:

  • 595 confirmed cases, ovewhelming majority Type A
  • 4 flu related deaths reported to date

Read our Influenza Activity Data Brief here: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/louisville-flu-activity

Best protections against getting the flu are to get the flu shot and wash your hands often with warm water and soap.  If you do get the flu, see your doctor, take all prescribed medications, and stay home to avoid spreading the flu to others. More info on flu at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

Photo: Louisville Metro Public Health And Wellness

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness is reminding residents to get immunized against hepatitis A and the flu.

“While we have seen some encouraging trends in Louisville with the number of new hepatitis A cases falling over the past six months, the hepatitis outbreak isn’t over yet,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief heath strategist. “In other areas of the state, new cases have grown quickly. In fact, nearly 80% of Kentucky counties have a hepatitis A outbreak. If you haven’t already done so, please get immunized against hepatitis A, especially considering all the travelling people do during the Thanksgiving holidays.  Protect yourself and your family.  Get immunized!”

“Also, please get a flu shot’” said Dr. Moyer. “Last year 49 people in Louisville died of the flu and its complications.  So, when you’re out getting your hep A shot, get a flu shot as well.”

As the hepatitis A outbreak continues to spread throughout Kentucky and the surrounding region, new cases per day in Louisville fell for the sixth month in a row. New cases in Louisville have fallen from more than four per day in April to less than one per day in October.  October’s new case per day rate of 0.58 was close to the same (0.39) as what it was in October 2017, before the outbreak was declared.

As of November 3, Kentucky had 2,545 hepatitis A cases and 17 deaths spread out over ninety-four counties.  By comparison, Louisville had 634 cases (as of November 13) and five deaths.  While Louisville once had the overwhelming majority of Kentucky’s hepatitis A cases, it now has less than 25% of the state’s cases.

More than 83,000 hepatitis A immunizations have been given across Louisville since the outbreak was declared, nearly 21,000 by Public Health and Wellness alone.  The CDC has called Louisville’s response to the outbreak “the gold standard” for other cities to emulate.

Hepatitis A immunizations are widely available at local pharmacies and health care providers.  The cost is covered by most insurance plans. People should check with their health insurance provider on where the insurer prefers that they go to get the vaccine and what, if any, cost might be associated with it.

For information on where to obtain the hepatitis A vaccine for those insured or uninsured, CLICK HERE.

The Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is reminding Kentuckians to get vaccinated against the flu.

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening,” said Jeffrey Howard, M.D., commissioner of DPH. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent the flu and it is also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid the flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick.”

DPH officials report weekly influenza activity to the CDC as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts. The weekly report is located online at https://healthalerts.ky.gov/Pages/FluActivity.aspx will be updated by noon each Friday. Kentucky currently is reporting 28 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu and one influenza-related death. The state flu activity level is currently classified as “sporadic”. The report consists of laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza that are defined by molecular virus testing and positive virus culture test results. Rapid positive influenza tests are not included in this report, but are used as an indicator of flu-like illness circulating across the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older. People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

  • Children age six months through 59 months;
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • Persons 50 years of age or older;
  • Persons with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater);
  • Persons aged six months and older with chronic health problems;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged ≤59 months
  • Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for
    complications from the flu; and
  • Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions who will have contact with patients.

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available for this year’s flu season. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season, but providers are encouraged to administer the vaccine as soon as possible.

During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 influenza seasons, ACIP recommended that Flu Mist not be used because of concerns about low effectiveness against influenza A (H1N1). However, ACIP recommends that FluMist once again be an option for vaccination during the 2018-2019 influenza season for persons for whom it is age-appropriate and who have no medical contraindications. The change in recommendation is a result of the influenza A (H1N1) strain being changed in the current FluMist formulation.

Due to the timing of the decision by the ACIP regarding use of FluMist, the Kentucky Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) will not be offering FluMist for VFC or KCHIP patients during the 2018-2019 influenza season.  However, some private providers will offer FluMist this season for their patients.

The flu vaccine is especially important in light of the severe season experienced last year across the U.S. The CDC reports that more than 900,000 flu-related hospitalizations occurred and more than 80,000 people died as a result of flu. In Kentucky there were 333 flu-related deaths, 5 of which were pediatric. Of the pediatric flu deaths reported in last year’s season, more than one-third of these occurred among healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years.

It is especially important for pregnant women to be vaccinated before or during pregnancy.  Antibodies cross the placenta and provide immunity to infants up to 6 months of age, when the infant is eligible to receive their dose of flu vaccine.

DPH relies on sites such as doctors’ offices, hospitals and health departments to help track the level of influenza activity in the state and to identify which strains of the flu are circulating in Kentucky. These voluntary sites collect data and report influenza-like illness (ILI) cases according to age groups each week. This sampling represents only a small percentage of influenza cases for the state, but contributes to the ongoing assessment of flu activity in the Commonwealth and helps determine the weekly level of flu activity.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.  Flu can be very contagious.  For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, Kentuckians should contact their primary care medical provider or local health department.  Influenza information is also available online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

Early Influenza Cases Reported

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has received reports of two laboratory-confirmed influenza cases, indicating the presence of flu activity in Kentucky. The cases were from Jefferson County.

Beginning in October, DPH officials will begin to report weekly influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts.

Photo: CDC

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available for this year’s season. This season, only injectable influenza vaccine formulations will be distributed in the United States. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season.

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening, and vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent illness.  It’s also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid it,” said Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., commissioner of DPH.  “You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick.”

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals aged six months of age and older.  People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

• Children aged six months through 59 months;
• Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
• Persons 50 years of age or older;

• Persons with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater);
• Persons aged six months and older with chronic health problems;
• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
• Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged ≤59 months
(i.e., aged   aged ≥50 years;

• Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for
complications from the flu; and

• Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and
outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and
emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care
facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions
who will have contact with patients.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.  Flu can be very contagious.  For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, Kentuckians should contact their primary care medical provider or local health department.  Influenza information is also available online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

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