TOPEKA -- The Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL) confirmed influenza in a specimen from an adult in south central Kansas on October 31st. This is the first laboratory-confirmed influenza case in Kansas for the 2012-2013 flu season.
Health officials are reminding Kansans that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against influenza. 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.
“Flu has arrived once again in the state. While there is little flu activity right now, flu normally rises during the holidays before peaking around February. Influenza can continue to circulate through spring, and the flu can be unpredictable,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “There is still time for everyone to get a flu vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community.”
One of several ways KDHE tracks influenza is by monitoring the percentage of patients seeking healthcare in outpatient “sentinel” clinics who exhibit influenza-like illness (ILI), in a system known as ILINet. During the 2011-2012 influenza season, this rate peaked at 3.4 percent the week ending March 10; this is the latest peak of an influenza season in Kansas since surveillance began in 1995.
The typical peak is January to February. KDHE also closely monitors influenza-related deaths. During the 2011-2012 influenza season, influenza and pneumonia, a common complication of influenza, contributed to or directly caused more than 1,300 deaths among Kansas residents, and was the eighth leading underlying cause of death in 2011.
Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.