16 more Ky. adults died from flu in the week ended Feb. 15, for a season total of 66; officials say best protection is still a flu shot

Kentucky Health News

The number of new cases of influenza dropped slightly in Kentucky during the second week of February, but 16 more adults in the state were reported to have died from the flu. So far, 66 Kentuckians have died from it this season, four under the age of 18, according to the state Department for Public Health.

The latest weekly report shows that in the week ending Feb. 15, Kentucky counted 1,854 new cases, a slight decrease from the 2,101 new cases reported the previous week. During this flu season, 19,057 cases have been reported in Kentucky. The actual number of cases is higher, because not all flu cases are counted; flu does not have to be reported, and four counties did not contribute to the latest report.

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.

This flu season has been especially bad for children across the nation. In Kentucky, children between 1 and 10 have been hardest hit. That said, a preliminary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu-vaccine report shows this year’s vaccine has been more than 55 percent effective in preventing flu severe enough to send a child to the doctor’s office and 45% effective for all ages, which is similar to the effectiveness of vaccines in previous years.

“Flu vaccination remains the best way to protect children and people of all ages against flu and its potentially serious complications,” says the report.

Hotspots continue around the state, with several school districts canceling classes. Counties reporting more than 90 new cases in the week ended Feb. 15 were Barren with 126, for a total of 1,053; Franklin with 91, for a total of 408; Jefferson with 333, for a total of 6,807; Perry with 108, for a total of 1,008; and Pike with 90, for a total of 1,050.

Other hot spots included: Breathitt with 50 new cases, for a total of 209; Bullitt with 41, for a total of 795; Carter with 77, for a total of 169; Fayette with 55 new, for a total of 460; Floyd with 41, for a total of 196; Graves with 64, for a total of 184; Hardin with 52, for a total of 273; Knott with 55, for a total of 322; Oldham with 63, for a total of 453; and Warren with 66, for a total of 706.

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