First confirmed influenza case of season reported in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reporting the first confirmed influenza (flu) case of the 2014-2015 season. The case was reported in Northeast Kansas. The case was identified through the ILINet, a system of clinics that KDHE uses to monitor outpatients who exhibit influenza-like illness.

“The arrival of our first confirmed influenza case of the season serves as an important reminder for everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Influenza is a preventable illness. Normally, the number of cases increases during the holidays before peaking around February.”

Health officials are reminding Kansans that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against influenza. Influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older. Infants less than six months of age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to the complications from influenza.

“Getting an influenza vaccination helps protect you and those around you from becoming ill,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. “Vaccination also helps to minimize the number of people going to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Symptoms of influenza are similar to the symptoms of Ebola.”

Being vaccinated against influenza is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications and for anyone who is caring for children younger than five years of age. It is also important for persons caring for those with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications.

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

Depending on the severity of the influenza season, five percent to 20 percent of the population may get influenza each year. During the peak of the 2013-2014 influenza season in Kansas, approximately six percent of all health care visits in ILINet clinics were due to influenza-like illness. Influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of 1,373 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2013-2014 influenza season. Influenza and pneumonia was the seventh leading cause of death in 2013 in Kansas.

Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.

For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit www.kdheks.gov/flu for influenza facts.

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