Latest flu report: Cases inched up again in Ky., and 8 more adults in state died from it; many schools close; flu shot is best defense

Kentucky Health News

New cases of influenza inched up again in Kentucky during the week ended Feb. 1, and eight more adults in the state were reported dying from it. So far, 41 Kentuckians have died from the flu this season, three under the age of 18, according to the state Department for Public Health.

The latest weekly report shows in the week ending Feb. 1, Kentucky counted 1,815 new cases, a slight increase from the 1,739 reported the previous week. During this flu season, 15,102 cases have been reported in Kentucky. The actual number is higher because not all flu cases are counted; flu does not have to be reported, and six counties did not contribute to the latest report.

The latest numbers show that the flu is at least twice as bad as it was last year at this time, when there were 7,285 confirmed cases of the flu, and 21 deaths, one under the age of 18.

Health officials recommend that everyone over 6 months old get an annual flu vaccination. It is not too late, since the season usually runs through May.

Schools across the state continue to cancel due to “widespread illness” Last week, Fayette County, one of the largest school districts in the state, canceled school for two days.

Lexington’s WLEX-TV reported Wednesday, Feb. 5 that these county school districts in its market would close Thursday and Friday: Breathitt, Casey, Clark, Fayette, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knox, Leslie, Lincoln, Montgomery, Nicholas, Rockcastle, Russell and Scott. Burgin Independent Schools and Bath and Pulaski counties have also canceled classes due to widespread illness.

Louisville’s WDRB-TV reported Feb. 6 that Elizabethtown Independent Schools and county schools in Barren, Gallatin, Hardin, LaRue, Taylor and Washington counties would be closed due to illness. The Louisville Courier Journal added Meade County to the list.

Hardin County Supt. Teresa Morgan said, “Student attendance numbers are not tremendously bad, but they certainly aren’t the best. Teacher attendance numbers are also below what we normally see. Other key members of our staff — transportation, child nutrition, custodial, instructional assistants — are also not able to come to school because of illness. We are hopeful that an additional day adjacent to the weekend will give everyone some extra time to get better.”

Children between the ages of 1 and 10 have been hit the hardest, with nearly 6,000 of the state’s 15,102 confirmed cases in this age group.

Hotspots continue around the state, but Perry County, which is one of the counties that has been hit hardest by the flu, saw a big drop in new cases during the week ended Feb. 1. It saw only 16 new cases, for a total of 824. Pike County is still being slammed, with 159 new cases for a total of 808. Barren and Warren counties continue to be hit hard; Barren had 144 new cases and Warren saw 82 new ones, for respective totals of 739 and 584.

Allen added 42, for a total of 262; Bullitt added 110, for a total of 649; Carter added 46, for a total of 88; Floyd added 46, for a total of 150; Greenup added 69, for a total of 152; Hardin added 46, for a total of 154; and Leslie added 36, for a total of 291.

MMWR = Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report