Health & Medicine

Flu level widespread in Kentucky, but only 14 cases in Fayette County

Lexington Herald-Leader

The flu level in Kentucky has been raised to widespread, the highest level, meaning flulike activity or flu outbreaks have been reported in at least half of the regions of the state.

Flu activity levels in states are tracked weekly as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national flu surveillance system.

Stephanie Mayfield, the state's health commissioner, said people who haven't received flu vaccines — particularly those at risk for complications related to flu, including children, pregnant women and those with chronic health problems — have time to get vaccinated.

Kentucky reported its first flu cases in October, and the flu season can last until May, according to a news release from the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Peak activity often occurs in the early months of the year, according to the news release.

Vaccination supplies statewide are abundant, but the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective, Mayfield said.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has seen 14 confirmed cases of flu this season, spokesman Greg Hiles said.

Vaccines are available for those who want to get shots, he said. Shots are available at the public health clinic at 805-A Newtown Circle from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday on a walk-in basis. The cost is $25. Many health insurance plans cover the cost of the flu shot, Hiles said.

"We don't expect any shortages," Hiles said.

The H1N1 strain of flu has become a worry even for young and middle-aged adults, according to the state news release.

"In this flu season so far, H1N1 has continued to circulate, and there have been reports nationally of severe illness in young and middle-aged adults," Mayfield said.

"We strongly recommend vaccination of children, teenagers and young to middle-aged adults, even if they are healthy, to prevent the spread of and complications from the flu this year. All forms of flu vaccine available in Kentucky this year provide protection against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus."