Three flu outbreaks in Sedgwick County, increasing flu activity in most of Kansas

By Kaitlyn Alanis, December 18, 2017

Close up image of a person being inject with a syringe

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said flu activity is
increasing in most regions of the state. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/ AP)

Increased levels of influenza activity have struck most regions of Kansas, but it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.

Four flu outbreaks have been confirmed during the 2017-18 season: three in Sedgwick County and one in Douglas County, KDHE communications director Gerald Kratochvil said.

The department said the influenza increase is part of an expected uptick in reported cases, but influenza activity has likely still not peaked in Kansas.

An estimated 5 to 20 percent of people are expected to get the flu this year, depending on the severity of the season, according to a KDHE release.

To help prevent the flu, KDHE said the influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older.

“Even if a person is healthy, getting vaccinated protects the people around them,” the release states.

The flu vaccine’s effectiveness can vary, KDHE said, but it is the best way to prevent flu illness and complications. Additional ways to avoid spreading the flu include covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands and staying home when sick.

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration.

During the peak of last year’s season, approximately 10 percent of all health care visits in clinics were due to flu-like illness, according to KDHE. Last year, influenza was the direct cause of 99 deaths, and KDHE said it may have contributed to an additional 1,108 deaths among Kansas residents.

Do your part to stop the spread of flu at home

What actions — apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine — can you take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the flu? (Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-269-6708, @kaitlynalanis

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