The Kentucky Department for Public Health reported Friday that flu activity is widespread across the Commonwealth, indicating an uptick in cases in at least half of the state. As of last week, 1,457 flu cases have been reported so far this season, a similar number to the same time last year, according to the state health department.
According to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, a significant increase has not been seen in Daviess County. Last month there were 53 positive flu tests compared to 185 positive flu swabs in December 2017 and 590 in January 2018, a record high in recent OHRH history.
“We have not peaked as of yet,” said Laura Gillim, infection preventionist in the quality and patient safety department at OHRH. “Flu peaks vary greatly from flu season to flu season.”
According to Gillim, recent years have seen the highest number of positive flu tests in almost every winter month and even October.
Jessica Austin, Senior Epidemiologist at Green River District Health Department, says she has seen an increase in the number of patients having rapid positive flu tests.
“Not all cases of influenza are reported to the local health department, so we only get a small snap shot through reports provided by all the hospitals in our region,” Austin said. “Flu is not a reportable condition for us so our data is not really a complete picture.”
Austin said Owensboro Health is where the health department receives flu numbers for Daviess County.
Gillim and Austin encourage the community to stay proactive when it comes to preventing the flu. Gillim tells patients to practice good “hand hygiene” by washing hands often with soap and water as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Gillim also says to practice good “respiratory hygiene” by coughing into and elbow or tissue to reduce the spread of the flu.
Austin also said that if someone is diagnosed with the flu, it is important to stay home until fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.
It is also not too late for a flu shot. Gillim says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests anyone six months or older get the flu vaccine.