Kansas is now experiencing regional influenza activity, with increased influenza cases in most regions of the state. Outbreaks in long-term care facilities have been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). Four outbreaks have been identified so far during the 2017-2018 season.
While there has been an expected uptick in reported cases, influenza activity likely has not yet peaked in Kansas. KDHE urges people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their family members from the flu. While flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, it is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older. Receiving the influenza vaccine is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications including babies and young children, older persons, and people with certain chronic conditions. Even if a person is healthy, getting vaccinated protects the people around them. It is important for people caring for young children and those caring for persons with medical conditions, who are at a higher risk of severe complications, to get vaccinated.
Symptoms of influenza include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.
Depending on the severity of the influenza season, 5-20 percent of the population may get influenza each year. During the peak of the 2016-2017 influenza season in Kansas, approximately 10 percent of all health care visits were due to influenza-like illness in the clinics where KDHE conducts surveillance for flu. Influenza was the direct cause of 99 deaths and may have contributed to an additional 1,108 among Kansas residents during the 2016-2017 influenza season. Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.
For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit www.kdheks.gov/flu for additional information about the flu.