Flu now widespread in Kentucky; first death reported; young adults, children at higher risk than usual; vaccine advised for all

This is an update of a story posted Tuesday.

The state Department for Public Health said Tuesday that influenza in Kentucky has gone beyond regional breakouts to being widespread, the highest level in the official rankings.

Wednesday, the agency received a report that a 10-month old boy in Scott County had died from the flu after going to bed with no apparent symptoms. He tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus, which is the most common strain this year, caused a pandemic in 2009 and sickened children and young adults more than seniors.

Why is this particular virus harder on young people? One theory is that seniors have already been exposed to the strain and have more immunity, Wendy Keown, director of community outreach at Lincoln Trail District Health Department, told Kelly Cantrall of The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that young people might be the ones most affected by the flu this year, Cattrall reports.

Keown recommends that people should get a flu vaccination, wash their hands frequently, seek medical treatment if symptoms arise, and not go to work or school if infected.

The CDC has reported some severe flu cases in the nation among young and middle-aged adults with both hospitalizations and death occurring, Cantrall reports. Four child deaths have been reported.

The CDC says every American at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season, and says that is particularly important for the following people:

  • People who are at high risk of developing serious complications, such as pneumonia, if they get sick with the flu
  • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women 
  • Children younger than 5, especially those younger than 2
  • People 65 and older
  • People who live with, or care for, others who are at high risk of developing serious complications
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
  • Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old
  • Health care personnel
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