Kansas health department reports first cases of flu, urges vaccination

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that it has identified the first cases of flu this season.

The cases were two adults from northwest Kansas who are in the same workplace and who did not receive a vaccination. Five co-workers also were ill with symptoms of the flu.

KDHE Secretary and state health officer Robert Moser urges everyone to get a flu vaccination, noting that it’s not too late.

“Although flu activity is now low, it normally rises during the holidays before peaking around February,” he said. “Influenza can continue to circulate through spring, and the flu can be unpredictable.”

Anyone 6 months and older is recommended to receive an annual flu vaccination. Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.

Flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.

Older people, pregnant women, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications from the flu.

Influenza was documented as a cause of death for 31 Kansans in the 2009-2010 flu season and for 14 last year. However, flu is often not listed on death certificates because laboratory tests may not show flu by the time pneumonia or other complications develop, state epidemiologist Charles Hunt said.

“The actual numbers of influenza-related deaths are likely much higher and can vary substantially from year to year,” Hunt said.

For more information, visit www.kdheks.gov/flu.

By Karrey Britt

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