The flu activity level in the state has increased from regional to widespread.
"Widespread" activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in a state. This level is consistent with other southeastern states.
"Having widespread flu activity being reported in Kentucky is very unusual in mid-September," said Dr. William D. Hacker, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
"This high level of activity so early in the flu season is mainly due to the H1N1 swine flu virus circulating, not the seasonal flu. We are urging individuals to get vaccinated against seasonal flu now and also receive a swine flu vaccination" later.
Vaccines for the H1N1 flu virus should arrive in Kentucky by mid-October, Hacker said. Those early supplies will be recommended for priority groups based on risk.
Priority groups for the H1N1 flu vaccine include: people who are more likely to suffer complications from swine flu, including pregnant women; people who live or care for children younger than 6 months of age; direct care health care and emergency medical services personnel; people 6 months to 24 years old; and people 25 to 64 years old with chronic health conditions.
Common sense precautions to prevent illness include: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.
The symptoms of seasonal and swine flu include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough and body aches. Vomiting and diarrhea are possible. Individuals at higher risk for complications — such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant — should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.