State Sees Widespread Flu Activity

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The flu bug is biting hard in Kansas.

The Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment said Wednesday that the influenza activity is widespread in the state. Already, KDHE reports more than 460 influenza and pneumonia-related deaths. During the 2011-2012 flue season, Kansas recorded more than 1300 total deaths related to the illnesses.

In addition, state health officials say reports of influenza-like illness already are nearly doubling last season's peak. KDHE says, for the week ending Jan. 5, the rate of patients seeking care for influenza-like illness at selected clinics was 6.4 percent. It peaked last season at 3.4 percent in the week ending March 10. Kansas typically sees its peak in late February.

While Topeka-area school districts say they aren't seeing an unusually high number of absences, Topeka's two hospitals say they are seeing a definite uptick over the past week in the number of people seeking care for flu-like symptoms. Stormont-Vail HealthCare says about 25 to 35 people a day are visiting the emergency room complaining of flu-like symptoms. St. Francis reported seeing 15-20 cases of influenza last week.

The figures have KHDE Secretary Dr. Robert Moser says the numbers have them reminding people it's not too late to get an influenza vaccination and take other precautions, both at home and in the workplace.

“I would ask that business owners and managers encourage their employees to stay at home when ill to avoid the spread of influenza in the community. It’s also important for everyone to wash their hands throughout the day with warm, soapy water and to sanitize telephones, keyboards and other office equipment used often,” Moser said.

Additional information from KDHE:
Influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older to reduce the risk of becoming ill with the flu and reduce the risk of spreading the flu to others. This is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications, and for anyone who is caring for, or in regular contact with, an infant less than six months of age. Babies this age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to the complications from influenza.

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.

For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit for influenza facts.