Kentucky has its first confirmed cases of flu for the year, and officials are urging residents to get their vaccinations. (WYMT-TV photo) The Department for Public Health reports six confirmed cases in Boyd County of the H3N2 strain, which is included in this year's flu vaccine. No cases of flu that contain genetic material from swine flu have been reported in Kentucky this year.
Kristy Bolen, senior epidemiologist at the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department, said both children and adults have been affected. "We do know that when kids go back to school, we tend to see more influenza," she said.
The reports of swine flu in Ohio and Indiana have prompted physicians to test for flu more than they normally would this time of year, Bolen told Kentucky Health News. "Being right on the border with Ohio, our local providers and local community members are more aware," she said. "It doesn't necessarily mean it will be a bad flu season."
The best way to protect against getting the flu is to get a vaccine, which should be done annually. The vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months of of age and is especially recommended for:
• Children age 6 months to 19 years
• Pregnant women
• People 50 years old or older
• People with any chronic health problems
• People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
• Health care workers
• Caregivers of people who have high risk for complications from the flu
• Out-of-home caregivers of people who live with children less than 6 months old.
"Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening, so it's extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid i," said Dr. Steve Davis, acting commissioner for the DPH. "You should also follow the advice your mother 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." (Read more)
For more information about the flu, click here.