Widespread Flu In Kansas; Not Too Late To Vaccinate
KSAL Staff - Wed 02:19 PM 01/09/2013
With widespread activity of the flu in Kansas, officials say that it is not too late to vaccinate. And they encourages employers to take the necessary steps for a healthy workplace.
State Health Officer Dr. Robert Moser from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says “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.”
According to the department, one of several ways KDHE tracks influenza is by monitoring the percentage of patients seeking healthcare in selected outpatient clinics who exhibit influenza-like illnes, in a system known as ILINet.
The typical peak for cases of flu in Kansas occurs in February. The the rates that are being observed now are higher and earlier than usual.
Last week (ending January 5), the rate of flu among patients seeking care was approximately 6.4 percent. During the previous (2011-2012) influenza season, this rate peaked at 3.4 percent the week ending March 10, the latest peak of an influenza season in Kansas since surveillance began in 1995.
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. In the current influenza season, more than 460 influenza and pneumonia deaths have been reported to date.
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.